South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsey Graham told Fox News on Friday that Washington "killed the most powerful man in Iran short of the Ayatollah".
"He was the right fist of the Ayatollah and we took the Ayatollah's arm off", Graham said in an alleged reference to an image - showing a signet on Soleimani's torn off-hand - that went viral on social media moments after the assassination.
"The intelligence was very strong that Soleimani was orchestrating chaos in Iraq at our expense and throughout the region [...] The president was informed of these potential attacks and he acted. This was a defensive strike to neutralize future attacks that were being planned and executed by Soleimani and the Popular Mobilization Front - the Shiite militias in Iraq", Graham said, cited by Fox News.
Graham also characterized Soleimani as Iran's most influential practitioner of unconventional warfare, claiming that his militia units "killed more than 600 Americans" with improvised explosive devices.
The US Department of Defence justified Soleimani's assassination as a preventive measure. In a statement, the Pentagon claimed that the top Iranian general was plotting various strikes against the US personnel.
Tehran has vehemently slammed the airstrike and the killing of the IRGC commander, vowing retaliation. Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif has dubbed the killing of the Iranian military commander in neighboring Iraq an 'act of terrorism' by the United States.