Two sources say US officials tried to convince Iraqi leaders to stop the parliamentary vote to expel American troops from the country

US President Donald Trump
US President Donald Trump JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images

During a flight from Florida to Washington on Air Force One, President Donald Trump spoke with reporters about the increasing tensions with Iran.

He reiterated his threat to target Iranian cultural sites.

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 site? It doesn’t work that way,” Trump said, according to a pool report.

Asked about the prospects of retaliation from Iran after the death of Qasem Soleimani, Trump said “If it happens it happens.”

Trump also threatened sanctions against Iraq should US troops be expelled from the country. The Iraqi Parliament voted Sunday to obligate Iraq’s government “to work towards ending the presence of all foreign troops on Iraqi soil.”

“If they do ask us to leave, if we don’t do it in a very friendly basis. We will charge them sanctions like they’ve never seen before ever,” Trump said.

Trump said the costs of maintaining an American troop presence in the country over the past years should be repaid by Iraq if the country chooses to rescind an agreement allowing them to stay. 

“We have a very extraordinarily expensive air base that’s there. It cost billions of dollars to build. Long before my time. We’re not leaving unless they pay us back for it,” Trump said.

Lastly, Trump said he would not rule out releasing some of the intelligence that led to the US killing Soleimani.

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