According to The New York Times, due to Iranian-backed aggression in Iraq, Pentagon officials presented President Donald Trump with the option of killing a top Iranian commander, thinking he wouldn’t actually do it. According to The Times who cited Pentagon and Trump administration officials, Trump initially rejected the option of assassinating Soleimani on December 28, 2019, but he grew increasingly furious when Iranian-backed militiamen attacked the US Embassy in Iraq. On January 2, 2020, Trump shocked Pentagon officials by opting to kill Soleimani.
When Trump was further updated on specific intelligence regarding the expected movement of Gen. Qasem Soleimani to Baghdad, he decided to use the opportunity in eliminating Soleimani by an American drone close to the airport inside Iraq. The Trump administration would later defend the strikes by saying (without proof) that Soleimani had been plotting an imminent attack.
Russian lawmakers say Trump’s unilateral decision to eliminate Soleimani was only a desire for a distraction from the ongoing impeachment proceedings against him.
Of course, Soleimani was not traveling alone. When his convoy was attacked, a total of 10 people were eliminated by the drone.
After the take out of Soleimani, Iran threatened to retaliate on 35 American sites in the region. Trump then took to Twitter to say that if Iran should retaliate, he was targeting “52 Iranian sites (representing the 52 American hostages taken by Iran many years ago), some at a very high level & important to Iran & the Iranian culture, and those targets, and Iran itself, WILL BE HIT VERY FAST AND VERY HARD. The USA wants no more threats!”