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The correct answer is "yes".

Under the current Rules of Engagement and the imperative military necessity waiver, detailed in Article 6(a)] of the 1954 Hague Convention, you DO have a right to return fire or employ measures commensurate to the situation if an adversary makes first use of a cultural property, archeological site or monument as an offensive position, defensive position or other imminently hostile military purpose.

In nearly all cases, firing on an adversary who has taken up an offensive or defensive position at a cultural site or monument will be permitted if a genuine imperative military necessity exists, after considering other feasible or logical alternatives.

Do not assume that a claim of "imperative military necessity" will be invariably accepted. According to the Office of the Judge Advocate General (International and Operational Law Division, U.S. Army), there is no "general military necessity based exception" in making first use of a cultural property for offensive or defensive military purposes.*

The facts in each situation must be analyzed, and specific rules apply; for example, there must truly be no logical or feasible alternative to making first military use of a cultural property. A "general military necessity based exception," applied in blanket fashion, could potentially violate the spirit, if not the letter, of the 1954 Hague Convention, which the U.S. has not ratified but has agreed to respect. "First military use" of a cultural property or site usuallly turns that property or site into a valid military objective, thereby increasing the odds that the property, monument or site will be damaged or destroyed.

* For details, see Geoffrey S. Corn, International Law Advisor at the Office of the Judge Advocate General (International and Operational Law Division, U.S. Army), "Sniper in the Minaret - What is the Rule?" in The Army Lawyer, July 2005, page 40.

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