Tensions mount in Mideast

World News

January 6, 2020 - 9:12 AM

Mourners carry the coffins of slain Iraqi paramilitary chief Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, Iranian military commander Qasem Soleimani and eight others inside the Shrine of Imam Hussein in the holy Iraqi city of Karbala, during a funeral procession Saturday. AFP VIA GETTY IMAGES/MOHAMMAD SAWAF/TNS

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump insisted Sunday that Iranian cultural sites were fair game for the U.S. military, dismissing concerns within his own administration that doing so could constitute a war crime under international law. He also warned Iraq that he would levy punishing sanctions if it expelled American troops in retaliation for a U.S. airstrike in Baghdad that killed a top Iranian official.

Trump’s comments came amid escalating tensions in the Middle East following the killing of Gen. Qassem Soleimani, the head of Iran’s elite Quds force. Iran has vowed to retaliate and Iraq’s parliament responded by voting Sunday to oust U.S. troops based in the country.

Trump first raised the prospect of targeting Iranian cultural sites Saturday in a tweet. Speaking with reporters Sunday as he returned to Washington from his holiday stay in Florida, he doubled down, despite international prohibitions.

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