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Pentagon official refutes Trump over list of ‘52 targets’ in Iran: ‘No list adds up to that number’

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President Donald Trump speaks during an event at Joint Base Andrews, Md., Dec. 20, 2019. Trump visited Andrews to thank service members before signing the National Defense Authorization Act of 2020 which support the Air Force's advanced capabilities to gain and maintain air superiority and the Airmen that are essential to our nation's success. (U.S. Air Force photo by Wayne Clark)

A senior U.S. military official doesn’t appear to be aware of what President Donald Trump is talking about when he says there is a list of 52 Iranian targets he could strike.

On Twitter Saturday, Trump told Iran that he has a list that represents the 52 hostages taken during the crisis between 1979 and 1981. The locations are said to be cultural sites important to the Iranian people.

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A TIME report on Iraq deciding to vote American soldiers out of the country, interviewed a U.S. military official who said he was unfamiliar with the list.

“There are different lists, depending on the nature of the possible targets — missile bases, nuclear facilities, naval bases, airfields, et cetera — but I don’t know of a list that adds up to that number or one that includes cultural or historic sites like Persepolis,” he said.

According to a CNN report, two senior officials said that there is “widespread opposition within the administration to targeting cultural sites in Iran,” if Trump decides to retaliate.

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“Nothing rallies people like the deliberate destruction of beloved cultural sites. Whether ISIS’s destruction of religious monuments or the burning of the Leuven Library in WWI, history shows targeting locations giving civilization meaning is not only immoral but self-defeating,” one official told CNN.

“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. But America would be better served by leaders who embrace Persian culture, not threaten to destroy it,” the source said.

“Consistent with laws and norms of armed conflict, we would respect Iranian culture,” a second senior U.S. official told CNN.

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An additional official who worked with the Trump and Obama administrations explained that “as a nation,” the United States military “do not attack the cultural sites of any adversary.”

Read the full report at CNN and TIME.

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