The statement by the US Secretary of defense followed President Trump’s statements about the readiness to strike at cultural sites in Iran.
US defense Secretary Mark Esper said that US military personnel would not violate the laws of armed conflict by striking at Iranian cultural sites, as previously stated by President Trump.
Asked if cultural sites were the target of US strikes, Esper told reporters “we will follow the laws of armed conflict.”
Under international law, an attack on cultural sites is considered a war crime, including a UN Security Council resolution supported by the Trump administration in 2017, and the 1954 Hague Convention on the protection of cultural property.
Last Friday, the US launched a drone strike that killed Iranian General Qasem Suleimani. This has sharply strained the already difficult relations between Washington and Tehran, which has raised fears of an armed conflict between the countries. Washington says it killed Suleimani in self-defense, seeking to destroy his plans to attack US citizens and the interests of the United States.
Amid threats from Iran for murdering Suleimani, Trump tweeted that the United States had selected 52 Iranian targets as targets, some of which are “important to Iran and Iranian culture” if Iran strikes American citizens or targets.
“They are allowed to use roadside bombs and blow up our people, and we are not allowed to touch their cultural objects. It doesn’t work that way,” Trump said Sunday, speaking to reporters.