Defense Secretary Mark Esper told reporters Tuesday the U.S. should expect Iran to retaliate after an American drone strike near Baghdad International Airport last week killed Iranian General Qassem Soleimani. “I think we should expect them to retaliate in some way shape or form, whether through their proxies—as they've been doing no for how many years—and or by their own hand,” Esper said, adding that the U.S. was “prepared for any contingency” and would “respond appropriately to whatever they do.” He also reiterated comments previously made by President Trump, claiming that the U.S. was “not seeking a war with Iran” and were attempting to end one. “We are seeking a diplomatic solution, but first this will require Iran to deescalate... what happens next depends on them,” he said.
Soleimani was killed in an airstrike late last week, with officials claiming that he was planning an imminent attack against U.S. interests. When asked if Soleimani’s planned attacks were days or weeks away, he said, “I think it’s more fair to say days for sure.”