After twice threatening to target Iranian cultural sites, which would constitute a war crime, President Donald Trump reversed his position.
On Tuesday, the president said that if Iran were to retaliate for the US drone strike that killed military and intelligence official Qasem Soleimani last week, the United States would not attack Iran’s cultural sites. “I like to obey the law,” the president said while complaining about the law.
From the Oval Office, Trump told reporters, “They are allowed to kill our people. They are allowed to maim our people. They are allowed to blow up everything that we have, and there’s nothing that stops them.” The president continued, “And we are, according to various laws, supposed to be very careful with their cultural heritage. And you know what, if that’s what the law is, I like to obey the law.”
The president echoed sentiments expressed by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Tuesday, who said, “Every target that’s being reviewed, every effort that’s being made will always be conducted inside the international laws of war.”
Earlier on Tuesday, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said he was “fully confident that the president … will not give us an illegal order,” adding, “As I said, the United States military will — as it always has — obey the laws of armed conflict”