Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister said that the United States acted in self-defense when it killed Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani with a drone strike.

Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan al Saud told CNN he believes American officials’ claims that the attack was designed to protect U.S. forces from Iran and Iranian-backed militia groups, which authorities said was the reason for the strike.

Faisal said that the U.S. acted in “their own legitimate self-defense” and agreed with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s assessment that the region was a safer place now that Soleimani, who was responsible for the deaths of hundreds of American troops, is dead.

However, the prince said he has not seen any changes from Iran’s hostile behavior in the fallout from Soleimani’s death.

“The statements aren’t positive. But we will continue to call on them to behave in a way that can support regional stability,” he said.

In retaliation for the Soleimani strike, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps fired more than a dozen ballistic missiles at bases in Iraq housing U.S. troops. Just hours after the attacks, Iran mistakenly shot down a Ukrainian airliner, killing all 176 people on board. Protests then began to rock the country as its citizens called on the government to step aside.

Faisal also said that Saudi Arabia supports having American troops remain in Iraq, despite protests in Baghdad calling on the U.S. to remove them and a parliamentary vote to expel U.S. forces. He tethered the American presence to the continued fight against the Islamic State group.

“We believe that the defeat of ISIS was very much based on the contribution of the international coalition, including the U.S.,” he said. “We think that while ISIS is geographically defeated, they continue to pose a threat, and it’s very important that the international community continue to support the Iraqi forces to remain vigilant. And the American presence is an important part of that.”

ISIS has been attempting to regain steam after the U.S. killed its leader, Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, in October. On Monday, ISIS-affiliated news organizations distributed a 37-minute recording of ISIS spokesman Abu Hamza al Qurayshi calling for a new phase of attacks focused on Israel. It was the first major directive by the terrorist organization since al Qurayshi became the new leader of ISIS.

Source » washingtonexaminer