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UK PM: US striking Iran cultural sites against ‘international conventions’

January 6, 2020 at 1:55 pm

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson makes a speech during the Conservative Party annual conference in Manchester, United Kingdom on October 02, 2019 [Ray Tang/Anadolu Agency]

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that any US attempt to target Iranian cultural heritage sites would be in breach of international law.

A spokesperson for Johnson said that US President Donald Trump’s threat to hit 52 Iranian sites of cultural heritage would be in breach of international law, but stopped short of calling it a war crime.

“There are international conventions in place that prevent the destruction of cultural heritage,” the statement said.

However, the UK have been generally supportive of the US decision to assassinate Iranian General Qassem Soleimani, with Foreign Minister Dominic Raab saying the UK and US were “on the same page”.

A spokesperson for Johnson said: “States have a right to take action such as this in self-defence and the US have been clear that Soleimani was plotting imminent attacks on American diplomats and military personnel.”

READ: ‘Low point in US politics’ as Pence shares ‘crazy conspiracy theory’ about Iran

The US has so far provided little evidence to support this claim.

Trump renewed his threats to hit Iran “very fast and hard” with attacks on sites of cultural heritage if the country retaliated against America’s assassination of its top general.

He said: “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. And we’re not allowed to touch their cultural sites? It doesn’t work that way.”

Destroying sites of cultural heritage is considered a war crime, and a tactic used regularly by terror group Daesh.

Johnson has also urged Iraqi parliament to reconsider its decision to force foreign troops out of the country, claiming their presence helps with the fight against Daesh, adding he will press for UK troops to remain in the country.

Johnson was forced to cut his luxury holiday on the private Caribbean island of Mustique short amid opposition pressure to address the escalating situation with Iran, initially leaving Raab to deal with the fallout.

READ: ‘US is entitled to defend itself’ says UK, urges Iran to ‘take diplomatic route’