Trump begrudgingly backs down from war crime threat against Iran cultural sites

Tim O'Donnell

President Trump backed off his threats against Iran's cultural sites, albeit begrudgingly.

Speaking to reporters Tuesday, Trump said he likes to obey the law, and if international agreements forbid him from targeting protected heritage sites in Iran, he'll stick to them. The president sent a tweet over the weekend hinting that places of cultural importance to Iran were among potential retaliatory U.S. targets should Iran launch any sort of attack against U.S. interests in the wake of the death of Iranian Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani, who was killed in a U.S. airstrike in Iraq last week. The threat led to intense backlash in Iran, the U.S. — even Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said it was "not appropriate" — and the rest of the world because protected sites are, well, protected and therefore off-limits, even in bellicose times.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tried to assure people over the weekend there was no way the U.S. would commit war crimes, and it looks like Trump has fallen in line — the president said he's "ok" with staying within the confines of international law. He did, however, complain about having to be "very gentle" with Iran's cultural institutions, despite Iranian violence.

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