In a break with President Trump, Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) says he opposes the suggestion of attacking Iran’s cultural sites.
Following the U.S. assassination of Iranian general Qassem Soleimani, Trump tweeted that the military would target cultural sites if Iran should retaliate against American forces. Such an action would violate both U.S. and international law.
Although Portman said he supported the drone strike against Soleimani, he doesn’t agree with attacking cultural sites.
“We need to follow the international laws, particularly the laws of war, particularly the Geneva Convention,” Portman said. “I listened to, I think it was Secretary Esper, over the weekend on this and I agree with him that we should obey the laws. My hope is that the administration will clarify that.” Portman said.
The 1954 Hague Convention, to which the U.S. is a signatory, bans "any act of hostility" directed against cultural property.
Trump made the threat after pro-Iran groups like Hezbollah vowed "severe revenge.” But Defense Secretary Mark Esper on Monday dismissed the idea, saying, “We will follow the laws of armed conflict.”
Iran responded to the assassination Tuesday by conducting a missile strike on U.S. military and coalition forces in Iraq, although no casualties were reported. In a statement on Twitter, Portman called the attack “a continuation of a reckless and provocative policy.” Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) said that “we must end this cycle of escalating violence."
Iran is home to 24 UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Such sites are protected by multiple international agreements signed by both Iran and the United States.