American politicians reacted along party lines. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell celebrated the attack, referring to Soleimani as "Iran's master terrorist". House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi referred to the attacks as "provocative and disproportionate", and introduced a "war powers resolution" requiring Trump's administration to end hostilities with Iran not approved by Congress within 30 days. Senator Lindsey Graham tweeted "To the Iranian government: if you want more, you will get more." On the other hand, Senator Richard Blumenthal stated, "The present authorizations for use of military force in no way cover starting a possible new war. This step could bring the most consequential military confrontation in decades." The Democratic candidates for the 2020 U.S. presidential election, political challengers to Trump, largely condemned the airstrike. One candidate described the killing as a wag the dog incident, parallel to the bombing of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Sudan by president Bill Clinton during his impeachment process.
On 6 January 2020, the Pentagon released a letter from Marine Brigadier General William Seely to Abdul Amir, the Iraqi deputy director of Combined Joint Operations Baghdad, informing him that "as requested by the Iraqi Parliament and the Prime Minister, CJTF–OIR will be repositioning forces over the course of the coming days and weeks to prepare for onward movement." Shortly afterward, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley said, "That letter is a draft. It was a mistake, it was unsigned, it should not have been released ... [it was] poorly worded, implies withdrawal, that is not what's happening."More Info
Agnès Callamard, the United Nations special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, maintained that the airstrike "most likely violate[d] international law incl[uding] human rights law", adding that killing of other individuals alongside Soleimani was "absolutely unlawful". On 6 July 2020, Callamard said that the attack was first known incident in which a nation invoked self-defence as a justification for an attack against a state actor in the territory of a third country and that the United States has failed to provide sufficient evidence of an ongoing or imminent attack against its interests in order to justify the strike. In a report to be presented to the UN human rights council, Callamard wrote "the course of action taken by the US was unlawful" and was a violation of the UN charter. On 8 July, 2020, responding, the U.S. State Department said "This tendentious and tedious report undermines human rights by giving a pass to terrorists and it proves once again why America was right to leave the council."More Info
On the day of the strike, U.S. secretary of state Mike Pompeo asserted the attack was ordered by Trump to disrupt an "imminent attack" by Soleimani operatives, although subsequent reports on that rationale were mixed. On 9 January, Trump said "We did it because they were looking to blow up our embassy. We also did it for other reasons that were very obvious. Somebody died, one of our military people died. People were badly wounded just a week before." On 10 January, Trump claimed that Soleimani had been planning attacks on four U.S. embassies in the Middle East. Afterwards several members of Congress, including Mike Lee and Chris Murphy, claimed that the Trump administration had not informed them of this in the intelligence briefing on the strike. Three days after Trump's remarks, Defense Secretary Mark Esper clarified that, although "there was evidence" of a plot against the U.S. embassy in Baghdad, the president "didn't cite intelligence" about the other three embassies he mentioned, and that the president instead shared his belief that there "probably could have been" a plot against those embassies.More Info
According to the Iranian Students News Agency (ISNA), the country's state-run news outlet, Iran fired "tens of ground-to-ground missiles" at the base and claimed responsibility for the attacks. The attacks unfolded in two waves, each about an hour apart. The Pentagon said these bases were on high alert after signs of the Iranian government were planning attacks on U.S. forces. Although the Pentagon disputes the number launched, it has confirmed that both the Ayn al-Asad and the Erbil airbases were hit by Iranian missiles. A military spokesman for U.S. Central Command said a total of 15 missiles were fired. Ten hit the Ayn al-Asad airbase, one hit the Erbil base, and four missiles failed. Other sources confirmed that two ballistic missiles targeted Erbil: one hit Erbil International Airport and did not explode, the other landed about 20 miles (32 km) west of Erbil. On 8 January Saudi Arabia's Deputy Defense Minister Prince Khalid bin Salman said the Kingdom would stand with Iraq and do everything in its power to spare it from the "danger of war and conflict between external parties".More Info
On 4 January, the funeral procession for Soleimani, al-Muhandis, and the Iraqi and Iranian militants was held in Baghdad and attended by thousands of mourners who chanted "death to America, death to Israel". Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi was also present. The cortege began around Al-Kadhimiya Mosque, a Shiite holy site in Baghdad, before heading to the Green Zone government and diplomatic compound where a state funeral was held. From Baghdad, the procession moved to the Shia holy city of Karbala and on to Najaf, where al-Muhandis and the other Iraqis were buried, while the coffins of Soleimani and the Iranian nationals were sent to Iran. Following the mourning procession in Baghdad, unknown people fired short-range rockets towards the U.S. embassy and at the U.S. Balad Air Base. The U.S. Central Command, which oversees operations in the Middle East, said no Americans were harmed by the sporadic rocket attacks on 4 January.More Info
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