The US drone strike that killed Qassem Soleimani, Iran’s top general, and nine other people was a violation of international law, according to the UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial killing.
Washington failed to provide enough evidence of an ongoing or imminent attack against its interests to justify the strike on Soleimani’s convoy as it left Baghdad airport, Agnes Callamard said Monday.
The strike violated the UN Charter, she wrote in a report that calls for accountability for targeted killings by armed drones and for greater regulation of the weapons.
“Major General Soleimani was in charge of Iran military strategy, and actions, in Syria and Iraq. But absent an actual imminent threat to life, the course of action taken by the US was unlawful,” Callamard wrote.
Callamard, an independent investigator, told Reuters: “The world is at a critical time — and possible tipping point — when it comes to the use of drones. … The Security Council is missing in action; the international community, willingly or not, stands largely silent.”
She is expected on Thursday to present her findings to the Human Rights Council, giving member states a chance to discuss what action to pursue.
The US is not a member of the forum, after it quit two years ago.
In response to the drone strike, Iran launched a barrage of ballistic missiles targeting two bases housing US troops in Iraq, without causing serious injuries.
Hours later, Iranian forces mistakenly shot down a Ukrainian passenger airliner taking off from Tehran.
Soleimani, 62, leader of the Revolutionary Guards’ Quds Force, was a key figure in formulating the Islamic Republic’s campaign to drive American forces out of Iraq.
The US had accused him of being behind attacks by Iranian-aligned militias on American troops in the region.
Soleimani also was said to have been behind the Dec. 27, 2019, attack at an Iraqi military base near Kirkuk, during which dozens of rockets were fired at the base. An American civilian contractor was killed, while four US and two Iraq servicemen were wounded.
There also was reported to be information on an imminent attack on the US Embassy in Baghdad.
Iran has issued an arrest warrant for President Trump and 35 others over Soleimani’s killing and has asked Interpol for assistance, Tehran prosecutor Ali Alqasimehr said last month.
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