- The Washington Times - Friday, January 3, 2020

Sen. Bernard Sanders late Thursday criticized the Trump administration’s targeted killing of Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani as part of a “dangerous escalation,” with the Vermont senator citing his own opposition to the 2003 invasion of Iraq in the process.

“When I voted against the war in Iraq in 2002, I feared it would lead to greater destabilization of the country and the region. Today, 17 years later, that fear has unfortunately turned out to be true,” Mr. Sanders, a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, said in a statement.

“Trump’s dangerous escalation brings us closer to another disastrous war in the Middle East that could cost countless lives and trillions more dollars,” he said. “Trump promised to end endless wars, but this action puts us on the path to another one.”

The U.S. military on Thursday claimed responsibility for an airstrike that killed Soleimani, head of the Iranian military’s elite Quds force. The Defense Department said the strike was aimed at deterring future Iranian attack plans, and that Soleimani was actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region.

Mr. Sanders and other 2020 Democratic presidential contenders have responded to the targeted killing by warning that it could destabilize the region.

Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden said Mr. Trump just “tossed a stick of dynamite into a tinderbox,” even as he said no American will mourn Soleimani’s passing.

Mr. Biden has been criticized by 2020 rivals like Mr. Sanders and Pete Buttigieg, former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, for his vote in 2002 to authorize the invasion of Iraq.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts said Soleimani was a “murderer” and “responsible for the deaths of thousands, including hundreds of Americans.”

“But this reckless move escalates the situation with Iran and increases the likelihood of more deaths and new Middle East conflict. Our priority must be to avoid another costly war,” she said on Twitter.

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