Pa. Republicans applaud, Casey criticizes killing of top Iranian general

Logan Hullinger
York Dispatch
U.S. representatives Lloyd Smucker and Scott Perry, right, listen to Vice President Mike Pence who spoke during an appearance at JLS Automation in Springettsbury Township Thursday, June 6, 2019. Bill Kalina photo

Republican members of Pennsylvania's congressional delegation lauded a U.S. drone strike in Iraq on Thursday night that killed a top Iranian general, a move Iranian leaders promised would bring retaliation.

The Pentagon announced Thursday, Jan. 2, that a drone strike at Baghdad International Airport  killed Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani. Widely considered a martyr by Iranian leadership, U.S. officials had described him as a killer who had taken American lives.

“The United States will not allow Iran, or its terrorists like Soleimani, to destabilize the region and the world, and kill Americans with impunity," said  said Rep. Scott Perry, R-Carroll Township, in a statement.

The statement continued, "The decades of ignoring acts of terror, or addressing it with harsh language are over.  These airstrikes were wholly appropriate.  We continue to show the strength and resolve of our Nation, and the President’s undeterred and relentless pursuit of combatting terrorism and keeping us safe." 

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Thursday's bombing came after pro-Iran protests at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad. Protesters threw rocks at the facility and set fire to a reception building in response to U.S. airstrikes that targeted an Iran-backed militia last week.

President Donald Trump's administration said the strikes were justified, as a U.S. contractor in Iraq was killed Dec. 27 at the hands of an Iran-backed militia, and the move was linked to Soleiman.

The Pentagon also accused the general of "actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region."

“The safety and security of the American people at home and abroad should be the central focus of our foreign policy," said Rep. Lloyd Smucker, R-Lancaster, who supported the bombing in a Friday statement.

"The world is a better place now that he is dead," said Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa.

U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa.

Democrats in Congress agreed that the top general was a dangerous figure. But they've accused Trump and the Pentagon of acting on impulse, a decision that could have disastrous consequences. 

Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., said the president needs to supply Congress with information soon with the details that led to the strike, such as the intelligence used to authorize it, its legal basis and the administration's plans in the event Iran retaliates.

"I have grave concerns that President Trump and his administration have not provided the American people with a comprehensive strategy on Iran," Casey said. "Finally, this and other recent actions by the administration have been taken without a congressionally approved Authorization for Use of Military Force."

Soleimani was the leader of the powerful Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps. He oversaw specialized operations throughout the Middle East, and he was widely respect by Iran Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Following the drone strike, Khamenei said "a forceful revenge awaits the criminals who have his blood and the blood of the other martyrs last night on their hands."

— Logan Hullinger can be reached at or via Twitter at @LoganHullYD.

Editor's note: This story has been changed. The original story had the wrong date for the air strike that killed Iranian Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani.