Trump 'Punks Out' softens rhetoric after Iranian missile attacks

WASHINGTON/BAGHDAD/DUBAI (Reuters) - President Donald Trump on Wednesday tempered days of angry rhetoric and suggested Iran was “standing down” after it fired missiles at U.S. forces in Iraq overnight, as both sides looked to defuse a crisis over the U.S. killing of an Iranian general

Trump 'Punks Out' softens rhetoric after Iranian missile attacks

Trump said the United States did not necessarily have to respond militarily to Iran’s attack on military bases housing U.S. troops in Iraq, itself an act of retaliation for the Jan. 3 U.S. strike that killed Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani.

Trump said no Americans were hurt in the overnight attacks.

“The fact that we have this great military and equipment, however, does not mean we have to use it. We do not want to use it. American strength, both military and economic, is the best deterrent,” he said.

“Our great American forces are prepared for anything. Iran appears to be standing down, which is a good thing for all parties concerned and a very good thing for the world,” he said.

Trump stopped short of making any direct threat of military action but said the United States “will immediately impose additional punishing economic sanctions on the Iranian regime” in response to what he called “Iranian aggression.”

 

He offered no specifics.

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, addressing a gathering of Iranians chanting “Death to America,” said the missile attacks were a “slap on the face” of the United States and said U.S. troops should leave the region.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif had said the strikes “concluded” Tehran’s response to the killing of Soleimani, who had been responsible for building up Iran’s network of proxy armies across the Middle East. He was buried in his hometown Kerman on Monday after days of national mourning.

“We do not seek escalation or war, but will defend ourselves against any aggression,” he wrote on Twitter.