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Westlake Legal Group > News Corporation (Page 251)

Elephant Walk at Utah Air Force Base showcases 52 F-35s launching in a row

Westlake Legal Group 200106-F-OD616-0014 Elephant Walk at Utah Air Force Base showcases 52 F-35s launching in a row fox-news/us/military/air-force fox-news/tech/topics/us-air-force fox news fnc/us fnc Edmund DeMarche c0861fdb-adf6-53ae-9a7a-535e6477605b article

An Air Force base in Utah staged a massive ‘elephant walk’ that featured 52 of one of the country’s most advanced fighter jets launching in a row.

The F-35A II Lightning fighters were part of the Active Duty 388th and Reserve 419th fighter wings at the Hill Air Force Base in the northern part of the state, according to AirForceMag.com. The base is home to 78 of the  Fifth Generation fighters.

“Today’s exercise marks the accomplishment of over four years of work — a little over four years ago, we received our first F-35,” Col. Michael Ebner, 388th Wing vice commander, told the Deseret News. “We now have our full complement of aircraft and locally, we turn this into a goal of full war-fighting capability.”

US DEPLOYS B-52 BOMBERS TO ISLAND IN INDIAN OCEAN

An “elephant walk” refers to the close formation of military aircraft before takeoff.

The base reportedly said the exercise has been planned for months but comes at a time of extreme tension between Iran and the U.S. President  Trump last week ordered the killing of a top general in Tehran. The 388th Fighter Wing tweeted a photo of the rows of jets on the runway and wrote, “We are now at full warfighting capability.”

The 388th is an operational unit that has already sent one F-35A squadron overseas on a deployment to the Middle East. That unit has since returned and a second F-35A squadron from Hill is now deployed in that region.

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“The message is not just to potential adversaries, but it’s also to our nation’s leadership that they can count on the 388th Fighter Wing to support the combat power that they plan and require us to provide,” Ebner told the paper.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

Westlake Legal Group 200106-F-OD616-0014 Elephant Walk at Utah Air Force Base showcases 52 F-35s launching in a row fox-news/us/military/air-force fox-news/tech/topics/us-air-force fox news fnc/us fnc Edmund DeMarche c0861fdb-adf6-53ae-9a7a-535e6477605b article   Westlake Legal Group 200106-F-OD616-0014 Elephant Walk at Utah Air Force Base showcases 52 F-35s launching in a row fox-news/us/military/air-force fox-news/tech/topics/us-air-force fox news fnc/us fnc Edmund DeMarche c0861fdb-adf6-53ae-9a7a-535e6477605b article

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Colbert’s ‘Late Show’ Reveals Trump’s Bonkers Social Media War Strategy

Westlake Legal Group 5e13ffce24000041245a519b Colbert’s ‘Late Show’ Reveals Trump’s Bonkers Social Media War Strategy

Stephen Colbert’s “Late Show” team tore into President Donald Trump for claiming he could inform Congress of military action against Iran via Twitter. 

The “Late Show” cracked that the tweet was just one part of his social media war strategy:

Colbert said during his monologue that the attack is what Americans opposed to the Trump presidency have been afraid of all along. 

“This is it, folks,” he said, adding:

“This is what’s been keeping you up at night for the last three years. It wasn’t the baggy suits. It wasn’t covfefe. It was his ability to wage war with no understanding of the consequences. And no one can stop him.” 

See more of his monologue below:

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Laura Ingraham on Democrat reaction to Soleimani killing

Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6120223497001_6120215081001-vs Laura Ingraham on Democrat reaction to Soleimani killing Victor Garcia fox-news/world/conflicts/iran fox-news/shows/ingraham-angle fox-news/person/donald-trump fox-news/media/fox-news-flash fox-news/media fox news fnc/media fnc cb4612fe-b941-53ce-8dc6-9faa40d71570 article

Laura Ingraham returned Monday night and weighed in on President Trump’s decision to order the airstrike that killed Iranian general Qassem Soleimani last week and the reaction from Democrats who are unhappy with his decision.

“Democrats accuse the president of acting precipitously… and destabilizing the region, which isn’t surprising,” Ingraham said on “The Ingraham Angle.” “If Trump says the sky is up, they’re going to say it’s down.”

TRUMP NOTIFIES CONGRESS OF WARNING AFTER LAWMAKERS SAID THEY WEREN’T INFORMED ABOUT SOLEIMANI IN ADVANCE

“He [Trump] made a calculation that as long as this general was alive, things would be more dangerous for the United States,” Ingraham said. “Soleimani, he was not acting as a brake on the Iranian regime. He was acting as an accelerant.”

The host cited a friend who argued that the Democrats’ position on the topic may be a reason to pull all troops from the region.

“But if our position right now if we listen to the Democrats is that we cannot eliminate a known and unrepentant terrorist for fear of reprisals from his homeland, then that means the situation in the region is truly hopeless,” Ingraham said. “And thus, if that’s what we believe, then we should agree.  All of us on an immediate withdrawal of all troops from the region. Period.”

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Ingraham called on Trump to trust his judgment.

“It’s important that the president listens to his judgment here, that he doesn’t listen to the same people who got sucked into Iraq in the first place. The Bush doctrine is dead. And Trump helped bury it,” Ingraham said. “The president, I think, is very smart, very smart enough to know that another war of choice or needless escalation will end up harming American interests, not to speak of his reelection chances. America first, America safe. America strategic, America, smart.”

Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6120223497001_6120215081001-vs Laura Ingraham on Democrat reaction to Soleimani killing Victor Garcia fox-news/world/conflicts/iran fox-news/shows/ingraham-angle fox-news/person/donald-trump fox-news/media/fox-news-flash fox-news/media fox news fnc/media fnc cb4612fe-b941-53ce-8dc6-9faa40d71570 article   Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6120223497001_6120215081001-vs Laura Ingraham on Democrat reaction to Soleimani killing Victor Garcia fox-news/world/conflicts/iran fox-news/shows/ingraham-angle fox-news/person/donald-trump fox-news/media/fox-news-flash fox-news/media fox news fnc/media fnc cb4612fe-b941-53ce-8dc6-9faa40d71570 article

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CNN reporter sounds alarm over conservative satirical site, gets pummeled on Twitter

Westlake Legal Group Donie-OSullivan-Tweet CNN reporter sounds alarm over conservative satirical site, gets pummeled on Twitter Joseph Wulfsohn fox-news/tech/companies/twitter fox-news/media fox-news/entertainment/genres/comedy fox news fnc/media fnc d072144c-cb26-55c6-8534-65473af660ad article

A CNN reporter sounded the alarm on Sunday over the popularity of a piece published by a conservative satirical site.

Last week, The Babylon Bee drew some laughs with an article poking fun at the Democrats’ reaction to the U.S. airstrike that led to the death of Irani Gen. Qassem Soleimani, using the headline “Democrats Call For Flags To Be Flown At Half-Mast to Grieve Death of Soleimani.”

Responding to a Twitter user who expressed concern that “Republican friends” on Facebook “are circulating it like it’s legit,” CNN reporter Donie O’Sullivan pointed out that The Babylon Bee was getting more traffic on that one article than his network and The New York Times get weekly.

“To put this in perspective, this is the same number of engagements the top NY Times and CNN stories on Facebook had over the past week,” O’Sullivan wrote. “A lot of people sharing this ‘satirical’ story on Facebook don’t know it is satire.”

WASHINGTON POST RIPS CNN FOR ITS FAULTY REPORTING ON STEELE DOSSIER, DEMANDS NETWORK ‘COME CLEAN’

O’Sullivan, who covers “disinformation, politics, and technology” blasted site over what he suggested was the site’s weak effort to declare itself as a satirical outlet.

“Having a disclaimer buried somewhere on your site that says it’s ‘satire’ seems like a good way to get around a lot of the changes Facebook has made to reduce the spread of clickbait and misinformation,” O’Sullivan elaborated before pointing to Facebook users whose comments suggest they believe the satirical piece.

O’Sullivan was the subject of mockery on social media over what has been called a “public meltdown.”

“Why is a CNN reporter having a public meltdown over a satire site,” Washington Examiner Executive Editor Seth Mandel asked.

“You guys should definitely keep focusing your energy on Babylon Bee and people sharing a joke article is in no way a reflection of the garbage state of your profession,” conservative commentator Stephen Miller wrote.

“I can’t believe this thread isn’t satire,” National Review senior writer David Harsanyi quipped.

CNN’S BRIAN STELTER SILENT AFTER GUEST SLAMS NETWORK FOR EMPLOYING PRO-TRUMP PUNDITS

Even the founder of The Babylon Bee weighed in on the dustup.

“A CNN reporter is taking shots at the Bee because our articles get shared a lot and some people think they’re real (which will always happen with satire). After thinking ‘how adorable,’ I thought, ‘well surely this guy has chirped at the Onion for the same thing…” Babylon Bee founder Adam Ford responded. “There are websites dedicated to chronicling reactions from people who think Onion stories are real. Foreign leaders have famously been fooled by Onion articles. And this guy’s bio says he ‘covers disinformation’ for CNN. Surely he has taken the Onion to task as well, yes?”

He continued, “As it turns out, Mr. O’Sullivan HAS tweeted about the Onion. But it looks like he’s quite the fan!”

Ford included screenshots of several tweets made by O’Sullivan praising The Onion’s work.

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The Babylon Bee, which is widely seen as a conservative version of The Onion, had some fun of its own, sharing a 2017 piece on Monday with the headline, “CNN To Launch Real News Spinoff Site.”

Westlake Legal Group Donie-OSullivan-Tweet CNN reporter sounds alarm over conservative satirical site, gets pummeled on Twitter Joseph Wulfsohn fox-news/tech/companies/twitter fox-news/media fox-news/entertainment/genres/comedy fox news fnc/media fnc d072144c-cb26-55c6-8534-65473af660ad article   Westlake Legal Group Donie-OSullivan-Tweet CNN reporter sounds alarm over conservative satirical site, gets pummeled on Twitter Joseph Wulfsohn fox-news/tech/companies/twitter fox-news/media fox-news/entertainment/genres/comedy fox news fnc/media fnc d072144c-cb26-55c6-8534-65473af660ad article

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Nikki Haley: Democratic leadership, candidates are the only people mourning Soleimani death

Westlake Legal Group Haley-Hannity Nikki Haley: Democratic leadership, candidates are the only people mourning Soleimani death Yael Halon fox-news/shows/hannity fox-news/politics/foreign-policy/middle-east fox-news/person/nikki-haley fox-news/media/fox-news-flash fox news fnc/media fnc article 6a30e50f-9d44-54cd-a040-6281cde49b95

Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley blasted Democrats Monday for their continued criticism of Trump’s directive to kill Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani via drone strike last week, a decision Haley said showed “great resolve” on the part of the president.

“You don’t see anyone standing up for Iran,” Haley said on “Hannity” Monday. “You’re not hearing any of the Gulf members [states], you’re not hearing China, you’re not hearing Russia. The only ones that are mourning the loss of Soleimani are Democrat leadership and our Democrat presidential candidates.”

“No one else in the world [mourns], because they knew that this man had evil [in his] veins,” Haley added.  They knew what he was capable of. And they saw the destruction and the lives lost from his hands.”

Soleimani, the head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ elite Quds Force, was described by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo as being just as dangerous as Islamic State terror leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who killed himself during a raid by U.S.-led forces in Syria this past October.

POMPEO ON QASSEM SOLEIMANI STRIKE: IRAN NOW UNDERSTANDS TRUMP WILL TAKE ‘DECISIVE’ ACTION

Iran’s top “shadow commander” was responsible for the deaths of hundreds of American and coalition service members and the wounding of thousands more, according to State Department officials.

Despite Soleimani’s terrorist status, many Democrats were quick to criticize President Trump for his failure to sign off on the U.S. airstrike without first seeking congressional approval. Liberal filmmaker Michael Moore went so far as to suggest that Americans have “never heard of him,” but “will be trained to hate him.”

“Go tell that to the 608 American families who lost a loved one,” Haley fired back. “Go tell that to the military members who lost a limb. This was something that needed to be done and should be celebrated.”

Haley said the strike that killed Soleimani left Iran “shaking in their boots” and added that the Tehran government “did not see this coming.”

What the president did left the Iranian regime completely flat-footed,” she said. “… They thought that they could continue to do their multiple strikes, but when it got to the lives of Americans, the president is never going to allow that to happen … You could see the Ayatollah crying today, because that was his number one strategist. That was the number one guy that has literally told all of the proxies in all of these countries who to kill, when to kill, how to kill, and that guy’s now gone.”

The former South Carolina governor also called on Democrats to come together in celebration of “a moment of strength for the United States.”

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“Partisan politics should stop when it comes to foreign policy. This is about America United. We need to be completely behind the president [and] what he did, because every one of those countries are watching our news media right now, seeing what everyone is saying.

“This is a moment of strength for the United States. It’s a moment of strength for President Trump.”

Westlake Legal Group Haley-Hannity Nikki Haley: Democratic leadership, candidates are the only people mourning Soleimani death Yael Halon fox-news/shows/hannity fox-news/politics/foreign-policy/middle-east fox-news/person/nikki-haley fox-news/media/fox-news-flash fox news fnc/media fnc article 6a30e50f-9d44-54cd-a040-6281cde49b95   Westlake Legal Group Haley-Hannity Nikki Haley: Democratic leadership, candidates are the only people mourning Soleimani death Yael Halon fox-news/shows/hannity fox-news/politics/foreign-policy/middle-east fox-news/person/nikki-haley fox-news/media/fox-news-flash fox news fnc/media fnc article 6a30e50f-9d44-54cd-a040-6281cde49b95

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Europeans Set To Toughen Iran Response Over Nuclear Violations

Westlake Legal Group 5e13f4ac24000086245a519a Europeans Set To Toughen Iran Response Over Nuclear Violations

BRUSSELS/PARIS (Reuters) – European parties to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal could launch a dispute resolution process this week that might lead to renewed U.N. sanctions on Tehran, European diplomats said.

Iran took a further step back from its commitments to the 2015 pact with six world powers by announcing on Sunday that it would scrap limits on enriching uranium, though it said it would continue to cooperate with the U.N. nuclear watchdog.

Its decision followed the killing of Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani in a U.S. drone strike.

Iran has criticized Britain, France and Germany for failing to salvage the pact by shielding Tehran’s economy from U.S. sanctions, reimposed since 2018 when Washington pulled out of the agreement.

Confirming an emergency meeting of the European Union’s 28 foreign ministers would take place on Friday, an EU diplomat said: “We must be ready to react to Iran’s breaches of the nuclear deal.”

Asked whether this could mean triggering a mechanism that could result in international sanctions being reimposed on Tehran, the envoy said: “It is increasingly likely, but not yet decided. Friday will be key.”

Two other diplomats said France, Britain and Germany could make the decision before Friday.

Asked whether the mechanism would be triggered, one of the diplomats said: “Not later than Friday, but yes.”

“THE DEAL IS ALL BUT DEAD”

Iran, which says its nuclear program is for civilian purposes, has already breached many of the restrictions under the 2015 deal, intended to increase the amount of time Tehran would need to accumulate enough fissile material for an atomic bomb from 2-3 months to about a year.

“The vagueness of the Iran announcement makes it more necessary than ever to launch the mechanism since its whole purpose is to resolve the differences we have on this,” a third diplomat said.

Any party to the deal that believes another is not meeting its commitments can refer the issue to a Joint Commission comprising Iran, Russia, China, the three European powers and the EU. There would then be 15 days to resolve the differences, but the period can be extended if there is a consensus to do so.

The process can ultimately lead to a “snapback” – the reimposition of sanctions in place under previous U.N. resolutions unless the U.N. Security Council decides otherwise.

Diplomats have said that unless any violations by Iran cross an unacceptable threshold, the Europeans will focus on extending the process rather than pushing toward sanctions, but it is unclear what the Europeans’ breaking point would be.

“The deal is all but dead, but we will do everything to slow and limit the (nuclear) proliferation slope that has been taken to try and save what can be saved,” said a fourth European diplomat, suggesting Europe still needed to gauge what would be the impact of any measures Iran takes most importantly on the breakout time.

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Sanders compares Trump taking out Soleimani to Putin ‘assassinating dissidents’

Westlake Legal Group AP19354116583834 Sanders compares Trump taking out Soleimani to Putin 'assassinating dissidents' Joseph Wulfsohn fox-news/world/world-regions/russia fox-news/world/personalities/vladimir-putin fox-news/world/conflicts/iran fox-news/politics/foreign-policy/middle-east fox-news/politics/2020-presidential-election fox-news/person/donald-trump fox-news/person/bernie-sanders fox-news/media fox news fnc/politics fnc article 91ef8c20-ff33-5a2f-8c3e-8dccf8f3dd70

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., is ratcheting up his condemnation of President Trump‘s order that lead to the death of Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani, comparing the killing to Russian President Vladimir Putin “assassinating dissidents.”

Sanders, who was one of the first 2020 Democrats to call Trump’s airstrike on Soleimani an “assassination,” lobbed harsh criticism against the Trump administration for the killing.

“This guy, you know, was, as bad as he was, an official of the Iranian government,” Sanders said of Soleimani, in the CNN interview. “And, you unleash — then, if China does that, you know, if Russia does that, you know, Russia has been implicated under Putin with assassinating dissidents.”

SANDERS RIPS BIDEN’S RECORD AS ‘SO WEAK’ IT WON’T CREATE ‘EXCITEMENT AND ENERGY’ TO DEFEAT TRUMP

He continued, “So, once you’re in the business of assassination, you unleash some very, very terrible forces. And, what I’m seeing now in this world as a result of Trump’s actions, more and more chaos, more and more instability.”

Sanders was one of several prominent liberal figures who criticized Trump for ordering the killing of Soleimani.

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Actress Rose McGowan tweeted last Friday: “Dear #Iran, The USA has disrespected your country, your flag, your people. 52% of us humbly apologize. We want peace with your nation. We are being held hostage by a terrorist regime. We do not know how to escape. Please do not kill us.”

She later clarified, “Of course #Soleimani was an evil evil man who did evil evil things. But that at this moment is not the f–king point. The United States is morally corrupt and acts illegally. It is only logical to appeal to Iran’s pride by apologizing. I’m taking one for the team. #TeamStayAlive.”

Westlake Legal Group AP19354116583834 Sanders compares Trump taking out Soleimani to Putin 'assassinating dissidents' Joseph Wulfsohn fox-news/world/world-regions/russia fox-news/world/personalities/vladimir-putin fox-news/world/conflicts/iran fox-news/politics/foreign-policy/middle-east fox-news/politics/2020-presidential-election fox-news/person/donald-trump fox-news/person/bernie-sanders fox-news/media fox news fnc/politics fnc article 91ef8c20-ff33-5a2f-8c3e-8dccf8f3dd70   Westlake Legal Group AP19354116583834 Sanders compares Trump taking out Soleimani to Putin 'assassinating dissidents' Joseph Wulfsohn fox-news/world/world-regions/russia fox-news/world/personalities/vladimir-putin fox-news/world/conflicts/iran fox-news/politics/foreign-policy/middle-east fox-news/politics/2020-presidential-election fox-news/person/donald-trump fox-news/person/bernie-sanders fox-news/media fox news fnc/politics fnc article 91ef8c20-ff33-5a2f-8c3e-8dccf8f3dd70

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Netanyahu says Israel should ‘stay out’ of fallout from US killing of Soleimani, per report

Westlake Legal Group Netanyahu Netanyahu says Israel should 'stay out' of fallout from US killing of Soleimani, per report Vandana Rambaran fox-news/world/world-regions/israel fox-news/world/conflicts/iran fox-news/world fox news fnc/world fnc article 7ae45bfe-f261-593c-bd8f-066d0387b01b

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sought to distance himself from the U.S.-led airstrike that killed Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani, telling Security Cabinet ministers on Monday that Israel should “stay out of it.”

“The killing of Soleimani is a U.S. event, not an Israeli event, and we should stay out of it,” Netanyahu said, according to reports by Axios that cited two ministers who attended the meeting.

The prime minister gave further instructions for Cabinet officials not to engage the press in commentary about the attack — which has ramped up the tensions between the U.S. and the Middle East and escalated the likelihood of a retaliatory attack — in order to ensure that Israel’s longtime rivals do not get the impression that it was involved in Thursday’s deadly drone strike.

US ANNOUNCES TRAVEL ALERT FOR ISRAEL, PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES 

The director of Mossad, a branch of the Israeli Intelligence Community, told ministers they were not expecting any attacks from Iran because “Israel stayed in a distance from the incident,” adding that the leaders should expect Iran efforts towards retaliation to become more apparent on Tuesday after the national three-day period of mourning for Soleimani is over.

A former chief of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards said Sunday the Israeli city of Haifa and Israeli military centers would be included in Tehran’s retaliation for Soleimani’s death, according to Reuters.

“Iran’s revenge against America for the assassination of Soleimani will be severe. … Haifa and Israeli military centers will be included in the retaliation,” Mohsen Rezaei said in a televised speech to mourners in Tehran.

Following the attack, where the U.S. launched three rockets at Baghdad International Airport, killing the head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ elite Quds Force as well as Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the deputy commander of Iran-backed militias known as the Popular Mobilization Forces, and five other people, Netanyahu issued a statement with brief congratulatory remarks to President Trump, a longstanding ally in the region.

“Qassem Soleimani brought about the death of many American citizens and many other innocents in recent decades and at present. Soleimani initiated, planned and carried out many terrorist attacks throughout the Middle East and beyond,” Netanyahu said. “President Trump is deserving of all esteem for taking determined, strong and quick action. I would like to reiterate — Israel fully stands alongside the U.S. in the just struggle for security, peace and self-defense.”

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Netanyahu reiterated to Cabinet ministers Monday that although Israel did not take part in the attack, they support the U.S.’ right to defend itself.

Westlake Legal Group Netanyahu Netanyahu says Israel should 'stay out' of fallout from US killing of Soleimani, per report Vandana Rambaran fox-news/world/world-regions/israel fox-news/world/conflicts/iran fox-news/world fox news fnc/world fnc article 7ae45bfe-f261-593c-bd8f-066d0387b01b   Westlake Legal Group Netanyahu Netanyahu says Israel should 'stay out' of fallout from US killing of Soleimani, per report Vandana Rambaran fox-news/world/world-regions/israel fox-news/world/conflicts/iran fox-news/world fox news fnc/world fnc article 7ae45bfe-f261-593c-bd8f-066d0387b01b

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Pentagon Contradicts Trump, Says U.S. Won’t Strike Iran’s Cultural Sites

Westlake Legal Group 5e13e0e22500001c1998ff77 Pentagon Contradicts Trump, Says U.S. Won’t Strike Iran’s Cultural Sites

Defense Secretary Mark Esper said the United States would not target Iranian cultural sites should tensions with Tehran escalate into an armed conflict, contradicting President Donald Trump’s vows to hit the country “very fast and very hard” if Iran retaliates for the assassination of one of its military leaders.

“We will follow the laws of armed conflict,” Esper said during a news conference at the Pentagon on Monday, according to The New York Times. In response to a question from a reporter, Esper agreed that such rules barred the targeting of cultural sites.

His comments come amid an international outcry over the plan, first touted (and then repeated) in a series of tweets by Trump this weekend. The president said on Saturday that the U.S. had selected 52 sites to target in Iran should the country attack any American assets, including some sites that “at a very high level & important to Iran & the Iranian culture.”

Tensions with Tehran have risen since Trump ordered the assassination of Iranian Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani, one of the most powerful military figures in the Middle East, in a drone strike in Iraq.

The killing sparked fury within Iran, which ended its remaining commitments to limit nuclear fuel production that had been negotiated as part of the Iran nuclear deal. The country has also pledged to respond to the assassination in a “crushing and powerful manner.”

Trump’s calls that cultural sites be targeted also prompted international rebukes as many noted it would constitute a war crime under international law. But despite that criticism, Trump reiterated his pledges in remarks to reporters on Sunday.

“They’re allowed to kill our people,” Trump told journalists traveling on Air Force One. “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 site? It doesn’t work that way.”

Esper defended the Baghdad drone strike on Monday, saying the U.S. was compelled to respond after the Pentagon learned Soleimani was planning attacks on American forces.

“How do you expect us not to respond when they’ve been killing our people for 20 years?” Esper said. “Soleimani alone has the blood of hundreds of Americans; he’s wounded thousands of American coalition partners. He is a terrorist, a leader of a terrorist organization who’s been killing and attacking Americans for 20-some years, and the blood is on his hands.”

White House aides went on the defensive Monday, saying Trump didn’t, in fact, say he would target cultural sites despite his repeated remarks.

“He didn’t say he’s targeting cultural sites,” White House counselor Kellyanne Conway told reporters, according to The Hill. “He said that he was openly asking the question why in the world they’re allowed to maim people, put out roadside bombs, kill our people, torture our people … he said that they identified 52 sites.”

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Pentagon Contradicts Trump, Says U.S. Won’t Strike Cultural Sites

Westlake Legal Group 5e13e0e22500001c1998ff77 Pentagon Contradicts Trump, Says U.S. Won’t Strike Cultural Sites

Defense Secretary Mark Esper said the United States would not target Iranian cultural sites should tensions with Tehran escalate into an armed conflict, contradicting President Donald Trump’s vows to hit the country “very fast and very hard” if Iran retaliates for the assassination of one of its military leaders.

“We will follow the laws of armed conflict,” Esper said during a news conference at the Pentagon on Monday, according to The New York Times. In response to a question from a reporter, Esper agreed that such rules barred the targeting of cultural sites.

His comments come amid an international outcry over the plan, first touted (and then repeated) in a series of tweets by Trump this weekend. The president said on Saturday that the U.S. had selected 52 sites to target in Iran should the country attack any American assets, including some sites that “at a very high level & important to Iran & the Iranian culture.”

Tensions with Tehran have risen since Trump ordered the assassination of Iranian Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani, one of the most powerful military figures in the Middle East, in a drone strike in Iraq.

The killing sparked fury within Iran, which ended its remaining commitments to limit nuclear fuel production that had been negotiated as part of the Iran nuclear deal. The country has also pledged to respond to the assassination in a “crushing and powerful manner.”

Trump’s calls that cultural sites be targeted also prompted international rebukes as many noted it would constitute a war crime under international law. But despite that criticism, Trump reiterated his pledges in remarks to reporters on Sunday.

“They’re allowed to kill our people,” Trump told journalists traveling on Air Force One. “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 site? It doesn’t work that way.”

Esper defended the Baghdad drone strike on Monday, saying the U.S. was compelled to respond after the Pentagon learned Soleimani was planning attacks on American forces.

“How do you expect us not to respond when they’ve been killing our people for 20 years?” Esper said. “Soleimani alone has the blood of hundreds of Americans; he’s wounded thousands of American coalition partners. He is a terrorist, a leader of a terrorist organization who’s been killing and attacking Americans for 20-some years, and the blood is on his hands.”

White House aides went on the defensive Monday, saying Trump didn’t, in fact, say he would target cultural sites despite his repeated remarks.

“He didn’t say he’s targeting cultural sites,” White House counselor Kellyanne Conway told reporters, according to The Hill. “He said that he was openly asking the question why in the world they’re allowed to maim people, put out roadside bombs, kill our people, torture our people … he said that they identified 52 sites.”

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