Daily US Times, Tehran: Iran’s foreign minister Javad Zarif said his country is not scared of further US military action following Qasem Soleimani’s killing.
In an interview with CNN in Tehran, Mr Zarif said: ”We will defend our own territory, we will defend our people”.
“The United States can defend the United States, but the United States cannot claim to be defending the United States several thousand miles away,” he added.
The US is bracing for Iranian retaliation after the country killed the Quds Force leader in an airstrike in the outskirt of Baghdad airport.
Tensions have been sharply escalated in the region after the attack, but Mr Zarif refused to say how Iran will retaliate.
Experts have pointed many US vulnerability across the Middle East where Iranian proxies and allies are active.
The foreign minister asked to see the reality in the region that ”people of this region are enraged, the people of this region want the United States out.”
”We have people on our side in this region,” Zarif said. “Beautiful military equipment doesn’t rule the world, people rule the world”
Anger and tensions
Iranians are angered of Seleimani’s killing, whom the considered a ‘brave hero’ and their loving one. Thousands of citizens took to the street to express their mourn in death. They expressed their anger, chanted ‘death to America’ and seek revenge.
Trump has been warning Iran of further retaliation of the attack. He threatened if Iran retaliates, the US will target 52 Iranian sites, including cultural ones. Trump’s threat to attack cultural sites creates growing criticism, as it will be considered war crimes.
Referring the targets of 52 sites, Zarif said Trump “has to apologize, he has to change course.”
Trump previously said the US wasted seven trillion dollars in the Middle East, but the top Iranian diplomat said by killing Soleimani, Trump added another trillion.
“He is just making it worse for America … he has enraged the people of our region”, he added.
Esper contradicts Trump
US Defence Secretary Mark Esper contradicted Trumps comment of attacking Iranian cultural sites. He said his country will follow the laws of armed conflict.
Targeting cultural sites is not allowed in the armed conflicts, he replied when asked.
Trump threatened to target Iranian cultural sites at least twice since the recent escalation. He tweeted to ”destroy 52 Iranian targets including cultural sites”. On his way to Washington, he told reporters on Airforce One: “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”.
Trump’s threat created criticism because it is against international law to attack areas of cultural importance.
Two senior officials told yesterday that there was strong opposition within the administration to target Iranian cultural sites.
“The Persian people hold a deeply influential and beautiful history of poetry, logic, art and science Iran’s leaders do not live up to that history”, one official told ”, but America would be better served by leaders who embrace Persian culture, not threaten to destroy it”.
The other told they would respect Iranian culture and laws and norms of armed conflict.
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