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Just 24 hours after claiming he isn't seeking war with Iran, President Donald Trump Saturday night threatened that the U.S. is prepared to strike "52 Iranian sites" if Tehran retaliates for the assassination of General Qasem Soleimani.
"Iran is talking very boldly about targeting certain USA assets as revenge," Trump wrote in a series of tweets. "Let this serve as a WARNING that if Iran strikes any Americans, or American assets, we have targeted 52 Iranian sites (representing the 52 American hostages taken by Iran many years ago), some at a very high level and important to Iran and the Iranian culture, and those targets, and Iran itself, WILL BE HIT VERY FAST AND VERY HARD. The USA wants no more threats!"
Observers were quick to point out that the deliberate destruction of cultural sites is a war crime under international law.
What does he mean by sites important to "Iranian culture"?
Purposefully destroying cultural sites is considered a war crime as per UN resolution 2347. https://t.co/sEo4hk7j7w
— Nilo Tabrizy (@ntabrizy) January 4, 2020
"The U.S. has waged a campaign of terror against Iraq and Iran for more than six decades. Coups, invasions, bombings, sanctions, support for despots and death squads," wrote The Intercept's Jeremy Scahill in response to the president's tirade. "Trump is now broadcasting his intent to commit more war crimes. None of this is happening in a history-free vacuum."
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"It is a horrid stain on the U.S. that it has never once held any president responsible for the vast economic and war crimes they have committed," Scahill added.
Trump's latest threats came after hundreds of thousands of Iranians poured into the streets of Tehran Friday to condemn the drone strike that killed Soleimani and half a dozen others in Baghdad. Iranian leaders immediately condemned the assassination as an act of terrorism and vowed to respond.
"Without doubt, the people of Iran will take revenge for this horrific criminal act," tweeted Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.
In a speech Friday following Soleimani's assassination, Trump proclaimed that the U.S. is "a peace-loving nation" and said his "administration remains firmly committed to establishing peace and harmony among the nations in the world."
Anti-war commentators said Trump's tweets Saturday night once again put the lie to the notion that the president is working to avoid war with Iran.
"Trump was never fit to be president—amid a crisis of his own creation he is openly threatening war crimes against the Iranian people," tweeted Ryan Costello, policy director at the National Iranian American Council. "Not only does Congress need to halt this march to war and atrocity, they need to get him out of office."