Esper says US isn't looking 'to start a war with Iran, but we are prepared to finish one'
Posted January 7, 2020 1:11 p.m. EST
Updated January 7, 2020 1:17 p.m. EST
CNN — US Defense Secretary Mark Esper told CNN that the US is not seeking a war with Iran but it is "prepared to finish one." He also said the US is not withdrawing troops from Iraq following a weekend vote by Iraq's parliament to expel US troops.
"We are not looking to start a war with Iran, but we are prepared to finish one," Esper told CNN's Christiane Amanpour Tuesday.
He insisted the US had evidence to justify the attack that killed Iranian General Qasem Soleimani in Iraq last week.
"I can assure you it's more than razor thin, it's persuasive. The fact of the matter is Soleimani was caught red handed ... one terrorist leader, of a terrorist organization meeting with another terrorist leader to synchronize and plan additional attacks on American diplomats, forces or facilities. I think we took the right action to remove these players from the battlefield," he said.
Esper said US troops will not be withdrawn from Iraq.
When questioned about a leaked letter circulated Monday that suggested the US was repositioning forces, Esper said a "draft letter" has no significance.
This story is breaking and will be updated.