WASHINGTON (BLOOMBERG) - President Donald Trump said he ordered the killing of a top Iranian general in Iraq because the Iranians sought to destroy the US embassy in Baghdad.
"We caught a total monster and we took him out," Trump told reporters at the White House on Thursday (Jan 9).
"We did it because they were looking to blow up our embassy."
Trump ordered the Jan 2 strike on Qassem Soilemani after violent protests at the Baghdad embassy that the US says Iran instigated.
No Americans were harmed.
The president's justifications for killing Soleimani have shifted.
He has said the Iranian general was planning unspecified "imminent" attacks against US forces.
He has also blamed Soleimani's history of helping to foment unrest in the Middle East and provide weapons to Iraqi militia that were used to kill American troops in the Iraq War.
He has not previously accused the Iranians of seeking to destroy the Baghdad embassy.
Asked subsequently to explain what he meant, he indicated that he was referring to the protests, during which fires were set on the embassy grounds.
"I think it was obvious, if you look at the protests," he said.
"That was a totally organised plot, and you know who organised it - that man, right now, is not around any longer. He had more than that particular embassy in mind."
On Wednesday, several senators including Utah Republican Mike Lee criticised the administration after classified briefings on the Soleimani strike that they said were inadequate.