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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - WASHINGTON — Any US military action against Iran will be in line with international law, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Sunday after President Donald Trump threatened to attack cultural sites.
Trump was accused of threatening a war crime after he tweeted that sites which were "important to Iranian culture" were on a list of 52 potential US targets should the regime in Tehran make good on its pledge to avenge the killing of a top commander.
Asked in a television interview why Trump was threatening Iran with a war crime, Pompeo said: "We'll behave lawfully. We'll behave inside the system.
"We always have and we always will," Pompeo told the ABC network's "This Week" program.
Pompeo refused to give any details on the potential targets but said Trump would "never shy away from protecting America.
"I've seen what we are planning in terms of the target set. I'm sure the Department of Defense is continuing to develop options," he said.
"The American people should know that every target that we strike will be a lawful target, and it will be a target designed with a singular mission, of protecting and defending America."
Trump's threat late Saturday sparked widespread accusations from Democrats that he would be in breach of the Geneva Convention which says any targeting of cultural sites constitutes a war crime.
"You are threatening to commit war crimes. We are not at war with Iran. The American people do not want a war with Iran," Senator Elizabeth Warren, one of the top Democrats hoping to challenge Trump in November's election, wrote on Twitter.
Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif also tweeted that "targeting cultural sites is a WAR CRIME".
Pompeo also said Iran will probably try to attack American troops after a US strike killed a top Iranian commander.
"We think there is a real likelihood Iran will make a mistake and make a decision to go after some of our forces, military forces in Iraq or soldiers in northeast Syria," he told Fox News in remarks aired Sunday.
His comments came as the military advisor to Iran's supreme leader said there would be a "military" response "against military sites" by Tehran after the killing of Qasem Soleimani, the powerful commander of Iran's Quds Force, the foreign operations arm of its Revolutionary Guards.
"It would be a big mistake for Iran to go after them," Pompeo told Fox.
The US has about 60,000 troops in the region, including around 5,200 in Iraq. Washington ordered thousands more soldiers to the region on Friday after Soleimani's killing.
"We're preparing for all kinds of various responses," including cyber attacks, Pompeo told Fox. — AFP
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