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'Reign of terror' over, Trump declares after ordering Iranian's general's killing

January 4, 2020 1:31 pm

US President Donald Trump declared today that a “reign of terror is over” .

He marked the death of an Iranian general killed in a US strike and as the Pentagon scrambled to reinforce the American military presence in the Middle East in preparation for reprisals.

Gen. Qassem Soleimani “made the death of innocent people his sick passion,” Trump said from his estate in Palm Beach, Florida, adding “a lot of lives would have been saved” if he’d been hunted down years ago.

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The United States is sending nearly 3000 more Army troops to the Mideast in the volatile aftermath of the killing ordered by Trump, defence officials said.

Also today, the Pentagon placed an Army brigade in Italy on alert to fly into Lebanon if needed to protect the American Embassy there, part of a series of military moves to protect US interests in the Middle East. Speaking on condition of anonymity, an official said the US could send 130 to more than 700 troops to Beirut from Italy. The official was not authorised to be identified.

Reinforcements were ordered as US officials said they had compelling intelligence that Soleimani, the commander of Iran’s Quds Force who was killed in the US strike, was planning a significant campaign of violence against the United States.

Officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss a decision not yet announced by the Pentagon, said the new contingent of troops is from the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. They are in addition to about 700 soldiers from the 82nd Airborne who deployed to Kuwait earlier this week after the storming of the US Embassy compound in Baghdad by Iran-backed militiamen and their supporters.

Trump said of Soleimani: “We take comfort in knowing that his reign of terror is over.”

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