President Donald Trump said that the US is preparing to target 52 Iranian sites, including sites “important to Iran & the Iranian culture,” if the country retaliates for the US's assassination of General Qassem Soleimani in an airstrike.
Doing this could be considered a war crime under international law — the United Nations, Geneva Convention, and the International Criminal Court condemn, prohibit, or have ruled against such actions.
But Trump has since doubled down on the idea, defending the US's right to target cultural sites if Iran retaliates. He said of Iran: “They're allowed to use roadside bombs and blow up our people. And we're not allowed to touch their cultural sites? It doesn't work that way.”
And while White House counselor Kellyanne Conway said on Monday that Trump “didn't say he's targeting cultural sites,” she said that he had “identified those sites and said it may happen if Iran retaliates in a certain way.”
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo would not say on CNN whether the US was actually preparing to do this, and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned Trump that any attempt to target Iranian cultural sites would be a breach of international law.
Trump did not specifically name any sites in Iran, but the country has many stunning, historic places that are not only important to Iranian culture, but also transcend Islam and pre-date the Islamic Republic as it is formed today.
Here are just some of Iran's most important cultural sites, which could be at risk of damage or destruction if Trump follows through with his threats: