WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Sunday repeated his assertion that cultural sites would be fair game as military targets if Iran carries through on its vow to attack Americans, dismissing the view of legal scholars that attacking cultural sites would constitute a war crime under international law.
“They’re allowed to kill our people. They’re allowed to torture and maim our people. they’re allowed to use roadside bombs and blow up our people. And we’re not allowed to touch their cultural sites? It doesn’t work that way,” Trump told reporters aboard Air Force One as he returned to Washington from a holiday stay at his Florida estate.
Trump's rhetoric toward Iran has remained aggressive since he ordered a missile strike that killed Gen. Qassem Soleimani late last week. Trump has tweeted numerous times over the weekend that the U.S. would be quick to respond to any Iranian attacks.
Following Soleimani's death on Friday, Iran vowed "harsh retaliation." Iran also said Sunday that it would no longer abide by a 2015 agreement with the U.S. in which the country agreed to curb its development of nuclear weapons.
These Media Posts will serve as notification to the United States Congress that should Iran strike any U.S. person or target, the United States will quickly & fully strike back, & perhaps in a disproportionate manner. Such legal notice is not required, but is given nevertheless!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 5, 2020
Trump reportedly did not notify Congress of the strike that killed Soleimani until Saturday afternoon.
Trump ordered the airstrike that killed Soleimani — the commander of Iran's Qud forces (a designated terrorist organization in the U.S.) and a revered figure among Shiites in Iran — on Friday in response to days of pro-Iranian protests outside of the U.S. embassy in Iraq. Those protests came in response to a series of U.S. airstrikes that killed 25 Iranians.