Terming Iran's slain military commander Qasem Soleimani as a "ruthless butcher", President Donald Trump on Wednesday praised the US military for carrying out a "flawless precision strike" that killed him and terminated his "evil reign of terror forever."
Iranian major general Soleimani was killed last month in a US drone strike in the Iraqi capital Baghdad ordered by Trump, bringing the entire Gulf region close to a full-blown conflict.
Regional tensions increased after Iran fired 22 ballistic missiles in a pre-dawn attack, targeting at least two bases where US military and coalition forces are stationed in Iraq, which Tehran said was a "slap in the face" of America.
Delivering his 3rd State of the Union address to the US Congress, Trump said, "Soleimani was the Iranian Regime's most ruthless butcher, a monster who murdered or wounded thousands of American service members in Iraq."
The US president said that as the world's top terrorist, Soleimani orchestrated the deaths of countless men, women, and children and directed the December assault on the US Forces in Iraq, and was actively planning new attacks.
"That is why, last month, at my direction, the US military executed a flawless precision strike that killed Soleimani and terminated his evil reign of terror forever," he said.
"Our message to the terrorists is clear: You will never escape American justice. If you attack our citizens, you forfeit your life," he added.
Noting that in recent months, the US has seen proud Iranians raise their voices against their oppressive rulers, Trump said that Iranian regime must abandon its pursuit of nuclear weapons, stop spreading terror, death, and destruction and start working for the good of its own people.
In retaliatory measures between the two nations, Trump last month imposed fresh crippling sanctions against Iran, targeting several of its top leaders, military commanders, and its infrastructure industry.
"Because of our powerful sanctions, the Iranian economy is doing very poorly. We can help them make it very good in a short period of time, but perhaps they are too proud or too foolish to ask for that help," Trump said.
"We are here. Let's see which road they choose. It is totally up to them," Trump added.
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