Katko, Brindisi: Soleimani killing justified

FILE - In this Sept. 18, 2016, file photo provided by an official website of the office of the Iranian supreme leader, Revolutionary Guard Gen. Qassem Soleimani, center, attends a meeting in Tehran, Iran. Iraqi TV and three Iraqi officials said Friday, Jan. 3, 2020, that Soleimani, the head of Iran’s elite Quds Force, has been killed in an airstrike at Baghdad’s international airport. (Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader via AP, File)

WASHINGTON — Oswego County’s congressmen are in agreement: The United States acted appropriately in taking out a top Iranian general Friday.

U.S. Reps. John Katko, R-Camillus, and Anthony Brindisi, D-Utica, released statements following the airstrike that killed Gen. Qassem Soleimani.

“For years, Soleimani has fueled much of the conflict in the Middle East,” Katko said. “He is responsible for the deaths of countless soldiers and Americans and behind the recent assault on the U.S. embassy in Baghdad, with imminent plans of future attacks in the region.”

Katko called the dead Iranian, who led Iran’s elite Quds Force, a “terrorist leader” and said his death was “necessary and justified.”

Brindisi said Soleimani had now “been brought to justice.”

“Qasem Soleimani was responsible for death, destruction, and violence against hundreds of brave Americans,” Brindisi said.

Iran vowed “harsh retaliation” for the U.S. airstrike near Baghdad’s airport, as tensions soared in the wake of the targeted killing.

Brindisi called on the administration of President Donald Trump to delineate a clear plan forward in the wake of Soleimani’s death.

“There are many questions that deserve answers with regards to the Administration’s plan for peace in the Middle East,” Brindisi said. “Keeping our servicemembers safe and fostering stability in the region should be the top priority.”

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani called the killing a “heinous crime” and vowed his country would “take revenge.”

Thousands of worshipers in the Iranian capital Tehran took to the streets after Friday Muslim prayers to condemn the killing, waving posters of Soleimani and chanting “Death to deceitful America.”

The targeted strike, and any retaliation by Iran, could ignite a conflict that engulfs the whole region, endangering U.S. troops in Iraq, Syria and beyond. Over the last two decades, Soleimani had assembled a network of heavily armed allies stretching all the way to southern Lebanon, on Israel’s doorstep.

Katko said the United States needs to stay ready.

“With Tehran already vowing forceful revenge, there is no question this action will have consequences and the United States must be prepared,” Katko said. “We need a decisive strategy and, as a member of the House Homeland Security Committee, I recognize that we must be diligent in our efforts to bolster counterterrorism.”

The Defense Department said it killed the 62-year-old Soleimani because he “was actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region.” It also accused Soleimani of approving the orchestrated violent protests at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad.

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