President Donald Trump in his first televised remarks on Friday, Jan. 3, since the deadly airstrike that killed the Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani said that his direction was “to stop a war” not to start one. 

“Under my leadership, America’s policy is unambiguous: To terrorists who harm or intend to harm any American, we will find you; we will eliminate you.  We will always protect our diplomats, service members, all Americans, and our allies,” he said. 

President Trump said that Soleimani—the leader of Iran’s Quds Force “was plotting imminent and sinister attacks on American diplomats and military personnel,” “but we caught him in the act and terminated him.”

“Soleimani made the death of innocent people his sick passion,” President Trump added, saying, “What the U.S. did yesterday should have been done long ago.”

President Trump also made clear that he does not support regime change in Iran but he called on Tehran to stop its destabilizing activity in the region.

“I have deep respect for the Iranian people. They are a remarkable people with an incredible heritage and unlimited potential. We do not seek regime change; however the Iranian regime’s aggression in the region, including the use of proxy fighters to destabilize its neighbors, must end and it must end now,” he said.

The president also sent a strong message to deter future action of retaliation against Americans. 

“The United States has the best military, by far, anywhere in the world. We have the best intelligence in the world,” he said. “If Americans anywhere are threatened, we have all of those targets already fully identified and I am ready and prepared to take whatever action is necessary. And that, in particular, refers to Iran.”

“America will always pursue the interests of good people, great people, great souls, while seeking peace, harmony, and friendship with all of the nations of the world,” he concluded. 

More than 3,000 American troops will be deployed to the Middle East following the U.S. strike, the Pentagon said on Friday.

Democrats have accused President Trump of ordering the strike without a congressional approval, while Republicans have praised the decision. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) is preparing a resolution in the Senate that would commend the Trump administration for killing Soleimani, according to Fox News