- Associated Press - Friday, January 3, 2020

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) - All three members of Vermont’s congressional delegation are criticizing President Donald Trump’s decision to launch a drone attack that killed Iran’s top general, saying the strike was likely to prompt more violence in the already volatile region.

Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy said the United States’ relations with Iran have gotten progressively worse since the president’s decision to withdraw from the Iran nuclear agreement.

“It has become painfully clear that the White House has no viable strategy for deescalating tensions with Iran,” Leahy said in a statement. “His impulse, again and again, has been to scramble the board with no strategy to reset it. “

The Pentagon said the U.S. military killed Gen. Qassem Soleimani, the head of Iran’s elite Quds Force, in Baghdad on Friday at the direction of the president. The Defense Department said Soleimani “was actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region.”

In a statement issued shortly after the attack, Sen. Bernie Sanders, an independent who is a Democratic candidate for president, said the killing “brings us closer to another disastrous war in the Middle East that could cost countless lives and trillions more dollar

Rep. Peter Welch, a Democrat and founding member of the House’s “No War With Iran Caucus,” said Friday that the president “placed American soldiers, diplomats and citizens around the world in harm’s way.”

In a statement, Welch called Iran “a bad actor in the region. And Qassim Suleimani was the despicable mastermind of deadly and cowardly attacks on American soldiers during the Iraq war.” But in launching the attack “in the absence of a sensible and comprehensive strategy,” the president is increasing the risk of war.

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