Pentagon Chief Esper Rejects Trump’s Threats To Destroy Iran’s Cultural Sites

Defense Secretary Mark Esper speaks during a press conference at Parliament of New South Wales on August 04, 2019 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images)
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January 7, 2020 7:57 a.m.

Secretary of Defense Mark Esper bucked President Donald Trump’s threats to destroy Iran’s cultural sites on Monday.

“We will follow the laws of armed conflict,” Esper told reporters in response to questions about Trump’s aggressive remarks, per the New York Times.

“That’s the laws of armed conflict,” the Defense secretary said when one journalist asked if his response meant U.S. forces would not attack the sites because doing so constitutes a war crime.

However, Esper’s boss apparently believes otherwise.

On Saturday, Trump declared that cultural sites in Iran would be “HIT VERY FAST AND VERY HARD” if Tehran attacked “any Americans or American assets.”

He then doubled down on his threat on Monday, several hours before Esper’s comments.

“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,” Trump said. “And we’re not allowed to touch their cultural site? It doesn’t work that way.”

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