Esper says U.S. won’t target Iran cultural sites, contradicting Trump

Defense Secretary Mark Esper on Monday said the U.S. military would not target Iranian cultural sites in retaliation for any response by Iran to the killing of top military commander Qassem Soleimani, contradicting threats by President Trump.

Esper said strikes against places with historic, artistic, or religious significance but no military value would constitute a war crime.

“We will follow the laws of armed conflict,” Esper said. Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said in a rare appearance at a meeting of his government’s National Security Council that any response to the drone strike that killed Soleimani in Baghdad must be a proportional attack on American interests conducted openly by Iranian forces, a departure from the use of proxy groups for attacks outside Iran.

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