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Rhode Island congressmen urge Trump to avoid war with Iran

January 3, 2020 GMT

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Members of Rhode Island’s congressional delegation are urging the Trump administration to use diplomacy and “de-escalate” to avoid war with Iran, following a U.S. airstrike near Baghdad’s airport that killed a top Iranian general.

Sen. Jack Reed said on Friday that war with Iran is not inevitable and now is the time for restraint, diplomacy and engagement, rather than lurching into another disastrous conflict in the Middle East.

Rep. David Cicilline said the Trump administration must immediately “de-escalate and avoid a deadly conflict with Iran.” Both are Democrats. Reed is the ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

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Iran has already vowed “ harsh retaliation ” for the airstrike early on Friday that killed the Iranian general who had been the architect of its interventions across the Middle East. The killing of Gen. Qassem Soleimani, the head of Iran’s elite Quds Force, marks a major escalation in the standoff between Washington and Iran.

“Rather than achieving the stated intent of deterring additional attacks by Iran, I am concerned the Trump administration significantly increased the likelihood for direct conflict, and, with it, the risks to Americans and our national interests,” Reed said in a statement.

Cicilline said the U.S. is closer to another conflict in the Middle East with “no coherent strategy or plan.”

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, a Rhode Island Democrat, said Congress needs to be informed of the strategy and policy that justifies the targeted killing under international law.

Rep. Jim Langevin, another Rhode Island Democrat, also asked for the administration to explain the rationale for the strike to Congress and immediately consult with its members on further military engagement. Langevin said he’s concerned the president may have miscalculated and set into motion an escalation in the conflict that will place U.S. citizens and allies at risk.