U.S. President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence speak with senior White House advisors during a meeting about an Iran missile attack on U.S. military facilities in Iraq, in the Situation Room of the White House, Washington, U.S., January 7, 2020. (Reuters/White House)
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WASHINGTON/BAGHDAD – The United States House of Representatives voted on Thursday to stop President Donald Trump from further military action against Iran as the Middle East remained tense after the U.S. killing of a top Iranian commander and Iran’s retaliatory missile strikes.
The resolution passed 224-194 along party lines in the Democratic-controlled House with nearly all Republicans opposed. The measure orders termination of Trump’s war powers to use U.S. armed forces against Iran without Congress’ consent.
The measure now goes to the Senate, which is controlled by Trump’s Republican Party, and faces an uphill battle.
The vote came just hours after Trump said that Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani was killed by a U.S. drone strike in Iraq last week last because he had planned to blow up a U.S. embassy.
Later, at a campaign rally in Toledo, Ohio, Trump said the leader of Iran’s elite Quds force had been planning attacks on U.S. embassies.
“Soleimani was actively planning new attacks and he was looking very seriously at our embassies and not just the embassy in Baghdad, but we stopped him and we stopped him quickly and we stopped him cold,” Trump said.
His remarks seemed to shed more light on what so far have been largely vague descriptions of the intelligence that drove Trump’s conclusion that killing Soleimani and disrupting his plots would be better than any fallout Washington may face.
A White House spokesman called the House-passed war powers measure “ridiculous” and politically motivated. The measure “could undermine the ability of the United States to protect American citizens whom Iran continues to seek to harm”, an administration policy statement said.
But if passed by the Senate, the measure does not need Trump’s signature to go into effect.
Potentially stepping up international pressure on Tehran, Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and U.S. officials said they believed a Ukrainian passenger plane that crashed in Iran on Wednesday was brought down by Iranian air defences by mistake hours after Iran launched its missiles attacks.
Trump said he had suspicions about the cause of the Ukrainian Boeing 737-800 plane crash, adding: “Somebody could have made a mistake”.
Iran denied the reports of missiles downing the plane.
Earlier on Thursday, Iran spurned Trump’s call for a new nuclear pact, and its commanders threatened more attacks, fuelling worries that an apparent pause in U.S.-Iran conflict could be short-lived.
But each side’s next move was uncertain. Iranian generals resumed their habitual barrage of warnings to Washington, and Trump said new sanctions had been imposed, as his Democratic rivals criticised his handling of the crisis. (Reuters)