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Trump paints Democratic opponents as Iranian stooges

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He retweets picture depicting House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in a hijab and Senator Chuck Schumer in a turban

WASHINGTON President Donald Trump on Monday painted his Democratic opponents as pro-Iranian stooges and retweeted a faked picture of two top party leaders in Muslim garb.

Mr Trump's latest assault on the senior Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer and House of Representatives speaker Nancy Pelosi followed criticism of his ordering a deadly drone strike against top Iranian general Qassem Soleimani.

"Anything I do, whether it's the economy, military, or anything else, will be scorned by the Rafical Left, Do Nothing Democrats!" Mr Trump said on Twitter, misspelling "Radical".

Earlier, he retweeted a photoshopped picture depicting Ms Pelosi in a hijab and Mr Schumer wearing a turban.

The US killing of General Soleimani near the airport in Iraqi capital Baghdad has stoked fears of war across the region. Mr Trump insists that Gen Soleimani had to be killed to prevent an imminent attack on four US embassies.

However, senior administration officials have given varied accounts, leading Democrats to question the whole episode, which comes on the eve of Mr Trump's impeachment trial in the Senate.

In his Monday tweets, Mr Trump claimed the Democrats and what he calls "the Fake News" media were "trying to make terrorist Soleimani into a wonderful guy, only because I did what should have been done for 20 years".

Responding to criticism that he was reckless in ordering the killing of Gen Soleimani - by some counts the second most important figure in the Iranian government - Mr Trump again insisted that there had been an imminent threat.

But he also hedged his words, adding that even without an immediate threat requiring such a high-profile attack, Gen Soleimani's past justified the action.

"The Fake News Media and their Democrat Partners are working hard to determine whether the future attack by terrorist Soleimani was 'eminent' or not, & was my team in agreement," Mr Trump tweeted, misspelling "imminent". "The answer to both is a strong YES, but it doesn't really matter because of his horrible past!"

Last week, Mr Trump told a re-election campaign rally that Ms Pelosi and other Democrats could not be trusted with classified information in cases like the killing of Gen Soleimani.

In a separate development, Iran yesterday announced its first arrests over the shooting down of a Ukrainian airliner in Teheran last week, after a third night of angry protests over the disaster.

The Ukraine International Airlines plane was brought down by a missile shortly after take-off last Wednesday, killing all 176 passengers and crew on board.

At a televised news conference, the judiciary announced the first arrests made over the blunder, without specifying how many.

"Extensive investigations have been carried out and some people have been arrested," said spokesman Gholamhossein Esmaili.

The announcement came shortly after President Hassan Rouhani said everyone responsible for the disaster must be punished. - AFP