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VIDEO: Trump, officials meet in Palm Beach to discuss ’successful’ airstrikes in Iraq, Syria

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, left, Defense Secretary Mark Esper, center, and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley. [RICHARD GRAULICH/

Secretary of Defense Mark Esper and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke in the old ballroom at Mar-a-Lago Sunday evening alongside Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to announce successful airstrikes against an Iran-backed militia in Iraq and Syria in response to an attack that killed a U.S. citizen.

“The attack that took place against an Iraqi facility threatened American forces,” Sec. Pompeo said of the five airstrikes on three targets in Western Iraq and two targets in Eastern Syria.

Within the last 72 hours, more than 30 rockets fired by Iranian-backed Shiite militia group Kataib Hezbollah led to the death of a U.S. citizen and four injured U.S. service members.

“This has been going on now for weeks and weeks and weeks. This wasn’t the first set of attacks,” Pompeo said in brief remarks, which he said were consistent with U.S. foreign policy toward Iran.

“Today what we did was take a decisive response that makes clear what President Trump has said for months and months and months,” Pompeo said. “We will not stand for the Islamic Republic of Iran to take actions that put American men and women in jeopardy.”

The five strikes against command and control facilities and weapons caches were conducted by F-15 Strike Eagles, Sec. Esper explained.

Esper added that the strikes were successful, and pilots and aircraft returned safely before the president was briefed.

A Defense Department statement earlier in the day said the Kataib Hezbollah strikes against the Iraqi base near Kirkuk where American personnel were stationed included more than 30 rockets, and two members of the Iraqi Security Forces were injured in the attack.

In his remarks, Esper said he briefed the president and left open the possibility of further offensive action in the region to stem such proxy attacks related to the Iranian Quds Force.

“We discussed with him other options that are available,” Esper said of the presidential briefing that took place Sunday at Mar-a-Lago. “We will take additional actions as necessary to ensure that we act in our own self defense, and that we deter further bad behavior from military groups or from abroad.”

The Defense Department statement noted that coalition forces are in Iraq under “Operation Inherent Resolve” at the invitation at the Iraqi government. Nonetheless, the strikes were reportedly condemned by Iraq’s Prime Minister Adil Abdul, who said the actions threatened security in the region and Iraq’s sovereignty.

Pompeo, Esper and Chairman Milley arrived in Palm Beach earlier Sunday to brief the president on the actions and to provide him with options. The men spoke to the press pool at Mar-a-Lago Sunday evening for fewer than three minutes and did not take questions from the media.

The president left his Mar-a-Lago residence this morning at 9:28 a.m. for a round of golf at his Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach while the strikes were taking place, returning mid-afternoon.


© 2019 The Palm Beach Post