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US Doesn’t Expect More Iranian Retaliatory Attacks, Says Pentagon Chief

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US President Donald Trump warned Iran Sunday against killing protesters who have risen up over the regime's downing of a civilian airliner as his defense secretary left the door open to talks with Tehran without preconditions. "All I can tell you was we've been clear from the start there were very significant threats to American facilities in the region and to American military officials and also to USA diplomats and I think that is consistent with what the president is saying now". "That is why I deployed thousands of additional paratroopers to the region to reinforce our embassy in Baghdad and to reinforce other locations throughout the region", he added.

"I didn't see one with regard to four embassies", Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper said of intelligence reports. And in response to a question about whether Trump was "embellishing" the threat, Esper said, "I don't believe so". "What I'm saying is I share the president's view that probably - my expectation was they were going to go after our embassies" Esper told CBS's "Face the Nation".

Trump and his administration argue that Soleimani was planning "imminent" attacks on the USA, with the president saying that regional US embassies were going to be targeted. But Esper, when asked if there was a specific piece of evidence, replied, "I have not seen one with regard to four embassies". One week later, Iran launched dozens of surface-to-surface missiles at Iraq's Ain Assad air base housing USA troops. The embassy is the most prominent display of American presence in a country'.

"There's no other way for them to get the money they need", he said on Fox.

US Secretary of Defence Mark Esper appeared to mix up his own position on why the US made the decision to kill Gen. Qasem Soleimani, giving CNN and CBS two conflicting accounts on the matter.

He said there was no mention of an imminent embassy attack.

Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., also speaking on "Fox News Sunday", criticized the administration for failing to disclose more specific intelligence during the closed-door briefing.

But O'Brien did not confirm Trump's claim that the White House had received intelligence that Soleimani, the head of Iran's elite Quds Force, was planning "imminent" attacks against four US embassies.

In a tweet both defiant and dismissive, Trump turned his attention again to supporting Iranian protesters and warning the Iranian government not to attack them or to pursue nuclear weapons.

"This regime faltered with maximum pressure, they faltered of their incompetence in this situation, and people in Iran are simply fed up", he said, adding that regime change is not an American policy. "I saw the intelligence".

He did concede, however, that 'there was evidence that part of the attack would be against the United States embassy...

"We were given somewhat general statements, and I believe that the briefers and the president believe they had a basis for concluding there was an imminent attack". Esper said similarly crookedly in a Sunday interview with CNN's Jake Tapper, saying that he would not discuss intelligence issues on the show.