Washington: Just 24 hours after claiming he isn't seeking warinfo-icon with Iraninfo-icon, President Donald Trumpinfo-icon Saturday night threatened that the U.S. is prepared to strike "52 Iranian sites" if Tehraninfo-icon retaliates against the U.S. over the assasination of the Islamic Republic's top general. 

Showing no sign of an effort to ease tensions in the region, Trump took to Twitterinfo-icon to warn that the USinfo-icon had "targeted 52 Iranian sites" and that some were "at a very high level & important to Iran & the Iranian culture, and those targets, and Iran itself, WILL BE HIT VERY FAST AND VERY HARD," if Iran takes revenge. 

It is not entirely clear what Trump meant by targets 'important to Iran & the Iranian culture' but he has been accused by his critics of plotting war crimes. 

The Geneva Convention Protocol 1 bans 'any acts of hostility directed against the historic monuments, works of artinfo-icon or places of worship which constitute the cultural or spiritual heritage of peoples.'

'For what it's worth, I find it hard to believe the Pentagon would provide Trump targeting options that include Iranian cultural sites,' tweeted Colin Kahl, a former deputy assistant to President Barack Obama.

'Trump may not care about the laws of war, but DoD planners and lawyers do...and targeting cultural sites is war crime,' he said.

"The U.S. has waged a campaign of terror against Iraqinfo-icon and Iran for more than six decades. Coups, invasions, bombings, sanctions, support for despots and death squads," wrote The Intercept's Jeremy Scahill in response to the president's tirade. "Trump is now broadcasting his intent to commit more war crimes. None of this is happening in a historyinfo-icon-free vacuum."

Lawmakers, including Democratic presidential contender Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, also accused Trump of plotting war crimes. Cortez flat out called the president a "monster."

Trump's latest threats came after hundreds of thousands of people poured into the streets across Iraq and Iran to condemn the US targetted strike that killed Soleimani, a hugely popular figure across Middle Eastinfo-icon.

Soleimani, the head of a special unit of Iran's elite Revolutionary Guard was responsible for Iranian military strategy across much of the Middle Easdt an was instrumental in decimating Daesh caliphate from the large swaths of Iraq and Syriainfo-icon.

The U.S. assassination of Soleimani, which was ordered by President Donald Trump, has raised concern throughout the region and the worldinfo-icon that already tense relations between Washington and Tehran are now spiraling toward outright war.  

Anti-war commentators said Trump's tweets Saturday night once again put the lie to the notion that the president is working to avoid war with Iran.

"Trump was never fit to be president--amid a crisis of his own creation he is openly threatening war crimes against the Iranian people," tweeted Ryan Costello, policy director at the National Iranian American Council. "Not only does Congress need to halt this march to war and atrocity, they need to get him out of office."

Escalating tensions

Iran's Supreme National Security Council said it had reached a decision on how to respond,  but wasn't saying what the decision is.

"Americainfo-icon should know that its criminal attack on General Soleimani has been the country's biggest mistake in west Asiainfo-icon, and America will not avoid the consequences of this wrong calculation easily," the Supreme National Security Council said in a statement.

"These criminals will face severe vengeance... in the right place and time," it added

"We are the ones who set the time and place of our reciprocal response," top IRGC commander Brigadier General Abolfazl Shekarchi said on Saturday.

He added that Iran's response to the United Statesinfo-icon will incorporate offensive strategies beyond defense measures.

Earlier a senior IRGC commander threatened that some 35 US targets in the Middle East, as well as Tel Aviv, were within the reach of Iran to avenge the killing of Gen. Qassem Soleimani.

"The Strait of Hormuzinfo-icon is a vital point for the West and a large number of American destroyers and warships cross there... vital American targets in the region have been identified by Iran since a long time ago," said General Gholamali Abuhamzeh, according to the Reuters news agency.

"Some 35 US targets in the region, as well as Tel Aviv, are within our reach," he added.

Meanwhile Iraq's Kataib Hezbollahinfo-icon militia warned Iraqi security forces to stay away from US bases in Iraq, "by a distance not less than a thousand metres starting Sunday evening," reported Lebanese al-Mayadeen TVinfo-icon.

The top candidate to succeed al-Muhandis, Hadi al-Amiri, spoke over the dead militia commander's coffin: "The price for your noble blood is American forces leaving Iraq forever and achieving total national sovereignty."

The Iraqi parliament is convening an extraordinary session during which a vote to expel US troops could be taken as soon as Sunday. Many Iraqis, including opponents of Soleimani, have expressed anger at Washington for killing the two men on Iraqi soil and possibly dragging their country into another conflictinfo-icon.

Soleimani, 62, was Iran's pre-eminent military leader - head of the Revolutionary Guards' overseas Quds Force and the architect of Iran's spreading influence in the Middle East.

Al-Muhandis was de facto leader of Iraq's Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF), an umbrella body of paramilitary groups.

Earlier a massive procession carried the bodies of Soleimani and al-Muhandis, and those of others killed in the US attack, through Iraq's capital Baghdadinfo-icon and then to holy cities of Karbala and Najaf.

As the body of Soleimani reached the crowds, mourners who had gathered in Baghdad to receive him, marched along with the convoy chanting, "you never let us down", in reference to the late Quds Force leader.

Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi who also attended was heckled at the funeralinfo-icon with angry Iraqi's demanding action not words.