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Senate Republican blocks unanimous consent on resolution calling targeting cultural sites a war crime

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman James InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Tax March - US vaccine effort takes hit with Johnson & Johnson pause Biden sparks bipartisan backlash on Afghanistan withdrawal  Biden defense budget criticized by Republicans, progressives alike MORE (R-Okla.) blocked passage of a resolution on Tuesday that classified attacks on cultural sites as "war crimes." 

Sen. Ed MarkeyEd MarkeyLawmakers react to guilty verdict in Chauvin murder trial: 'Our work is far from done' Overnight Energy: Biden reportedly will pledge to halve US emissions by 2030 | Ocasio-Cortez, Markey reintroduce Green New Deal resolution Ocasio-Cortez, Markey reintroduce Green New Deal resolution MORE (D-Mass.) tried to get unanimous consent to pass the resolution, arguing that the Senate should go on record amid President TrumpDonald TrumpSt. Louis lawyer who pointed gun at Black Lives Matter protesters considering Senate run Chauvin found guilty as nation exhales US says Iran negotiations are 'positive' MORE's threats to target Iranian cultural sites. 

"The president would compound the mistake which he has made and turn it into something that could be catastrophic for that region, for our country, for the world," Markey said from the Senate floor. 

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He added that Trump's threat to target cultural sites is a "betrayal of American values. It is wrong. It is a needless escalation which ignores international law." 

The page-long resolution states that "attacks on cultural sites are war crimes."

It also notes Defense Secretary Mark EsperMark EsperInspector general chose not to investigate Secret Service in clearing of Lafayette Square: report The paradox of US-India relations Overnight Defense: Trump-era land mine policy unchanged amid review | Biden spending outline coming Friday | First lady sets priorities for relaunched military families initiative MORE's comments from Monday, when he told reporters that the United States would not target Iranian culture sites and would "follow the laws of armed conflict."

Under the Senate's rules, any one senator can request for a resolution to be passed by unanimous consent, but any one senator can object and block their request. 

Inhofe said he appreciated "the spirit" of Markey's resolution but that it needed to be more specific. 

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"Since our votes carry the force of law, we need to be more specific in our resolutions, and it's simply not true that attacking cultural sites is always a war crime because there are many instances in which cultural sites have been used as staging grounds for hostilities," Inhofe said. 

He added that he hoped Markey would amend his resolution "to acknowledge an exception for when cultural sites are used for staging military attacks or other improper purposes." 

Trump appeared to back down on Tuesday from his threat to target Iranian cultural sites if Tehran retaliates over the strike that killed Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani.

Trump told reporters that he wants to obey the law when asked whether he would target Iranian cultural sites, which legal experts have said would likely amount to a violation of international law.

“If that’s what the law is, I like to obey the law. But think of it. They kill our people. They blow up our people, and then we have to be very gentle with their cultural institutions. But I’m OK with it. It’s OK with me,” Trump told reporters in the Oval Office. 

Markey appeared skeptical that Trump wouldn't attack cultural sites, reading the president's previous tweets from the Senate floor. 

"If he says that he's going to target the most valuable cultural sits inside of Iran, we should believe him. He does what he says he's going to do," Markey said.