President Donald Trump of the United States said on Friday that the US’ killing of Iranian military general was carried out to prevent an all-out war.

At a brief appearance before the media in Florida, Mr Trump accused Qassem Soleimani of plotting “sinister attacks” against U.S. citizens and interests in the Middle-East, which prompted him to order an airstrike to take him out.

“We took action last night to stop a war,” Mr Trump said. “We did not take action to start a war.”

It was the first media appearance of the president since Mr Soleiman’s death was announced early Friday, and he did not take questions from reporters.

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The major-general’s killing has drawn worldwide reaction, amidst fears about what would happen next. Mr Soleimani was the head of Quds Force, a covert wing of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. His brutal exploits had been widely acknowledged by military analysts and governments across the world.

Iran has threatened to retaliate over the killing, which was launched Thursday evening near the Baghdad International Airport in Iraq.

Thousands of Iranians poured on the streets Friday afternoon to protest the U.S. action, describing it as a crime and shouting death to America.