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Secretary of State Mike Pompeo holds a news conference at the State Department in Washington on March 15, 2019. Pompeo sai...

Pompeo says U.S. strike disrupted ‘imminent’ attack

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is asserting that the U.S. killed Iran’s top military commander to disrupt an “imminent” attack orchestrated by him.

Pompeo told CNN that Gen. Qassem Soleimani “was actively plotting in the region to take actions, the big action as he described it, that would have put dozens if not hundreds of American lives at risk. We know it was imminent. This was an intelligence-based assessment that drove our decision-making process.”

The secretary of state did not say where or when the attack had been expected to take place. He told Fox that in the attack “there would have been many Muslims killed as well, Iraqis, people in other countries as well.”

Pompeo also told Fox that he hopes Iran “will see American resolve and that their decision will be to de-escalate, to take actions consistent with what normal nations do. And in the event that they do not, in the event they go the other direction, I know that President Trump and the entire United States government is prepared to respond appropriately.’’

Before dawn in Washington on Friday, the State Department said Pompeo had spoken with the foreign ministers of Britain and Germany as well as China’s state councilor.

In each call, Pompeo said the U.S. is committed to de-escalating tensions in the Middle East that have soared since an Iranian-backed militia killed an American contractor and the U.S. responded with strikes against it. That set off violent pro-Iran protests outside the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad.

Iran’s supreme leader has vowed “harsh retaliation” for the latest U.S. airstrike.