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Trump tweets after U.S. strike: 'Iran never won a war, but never lost a negotiation'

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President Trump Departs White House For Texas
President Donald Trump waves as he walks to board Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House on Nov. 20, 2019.   -   Copyright  Al Drago
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President Donald Trump on Friday tweeted his first remarks since the U.S. airstrike that killed Iranian general Qassem Soleimani, one of that country's most powerful military and political figures.

"Iran never won a war, but never lost a negotiation!" Trump tweeted Friday morning. It was not immediately clear what Trump meant by the statement.

The president's first tweet, minutes after the news, was an image of the American flag.

Trump ordered the U.S. strike that killed Qassem Soleimani, the high-profile commander of Iran's elite Quds Force and sometimes described as the country's second most influential person, at Baghdad International Airport on Thursday, according to the Pentagon.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani vowed revenge in a statement on Friday after the news was confirmed, tweeting, "The great nation of Iran will take revenge for this heinous crime."

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei also said a "harsh retaliation is waiting for the criminals whose filthy hands spilled his blood."

Democratic leaders Congress criticized Trump's decision. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said late Thursday nightthat the bombing was carried out without "authorization for use of military force" or consultation with Congress and called on the administration to immediately brief lawmakers on the next steps under consideration.

Republicans praised the president's action. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said in a statement late Thursday that Soleimani "had American blood on his hands" and welcomed what he called Trump's "bold action against Iranian aggression."

The strike came amid heightened tensions between the Trump administration and Tehran over rocket attacks aimed at coalition forces in Iraq. U.S. officials have said those attacks were likely carried out by Iranian-backed militias with links to the Quds Force.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a Fox News interview Friday morning that the decision to kill the commander was "necessary" in the midst of what he called an "imminent attack" Soleimani had orchestrated. Pompeo said the purpose of the strike was to disrupt the attack and set "conditions for de-escalation."

Pompeo also said that growing tensions over the past two weeks necessitated the strike, adding "the restraint that President Trump had shown was important. And it's now the time we needed to take action to restore deterrence."