President Donald Trump on Friday morning tweeted his first statement after an American airstrike killed Iran's top military commander hours earlier.
"Iran never won a war, but never lost a negotiation!" the president tweeted. It wasn't immediately clear what Trump meant by the tweet.
On Trump's order, U.S. forces on Thursday launched an airstrike that killed Iranian Gen. Qasem Soleimani and an aide after they arrived at Baghdad's airport. Iran vowed to retaliate. The State Department urged American citizens to leave Iraq.
Later, Trump tweeted that Soleimani was "directly and indirectly responsible for the death of millions of people," and that the military leader "should have been taken out many years ago!"
Trump had been conspicuously quiet on Twitter since the news of Soleimani's death was first reported late Thursday. Before his vague tweet and subsequent denunciations of Soleimani on Friday morning, Trump had retweeted other people's reactions to the attack as well as a wordless message featuring only a low-res image of the American flag.
The attack also intensified already-high tensions between the United States and Iran. Soleimani led the special Quds Force unit of Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards and has been blamed for the deaths of hundreds of Americans and many other across the Middle East. The Pentagon said he had been actively planning attack on U.S. diplomats and service members in Iraq and elsewhere throughout the region.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo blamed Iranian-supported forces for several attacks on bases in Iraq. Pompeo also warned that any future attacks on Americans or U.S. allies would be "answered with a decisive U.S. response."
Before the airstrike on Soleimani, pro-Iranian demonstrators swarmed the fortified U.S. Embassy compound in the Iraqi capital to protest a U.S. attack on Sunday that killed about two-dozen members of an Iranian-backed group called Kataeb Hezbollah. Sunday's attack came two days after an American contractor was killed during a rocket attack on an Iraqi military base in Kirkuk.
Trump has also repeatedly vowed that he wants to halt America's "endless wars," particularly in the Middle East.