US drone strike on Iran's Qassem Suleimani 'unlawful', UN investigator says
Washington has failed to provide sufficient evidence of an ongoing or imminent attack against its interests to justify the strike, says the UN special rapporteur
The US drone strike in Iraq that killed top Iranian general Qassem Suleimani and nine others in January represented a breach of international law, a UN human rights investigator has said.
The United States has failed to provide sufficient evidence of an ongoing or imminent attack against its interests to justify the strike on Suleimani's convoy as it left Baghdad airport, said Agnes Callamard, UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions.
The attack violated the UN Charter, Ms Callamard wrote in a report calling for accountability for targeted killings by armed drones and for greater regulation of the weapons.
"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," Ms Callamard, an independent investigator, said on Monday.
Ms Callamard is due to present her findings to the Human Rights Council on Thursday, giving member states a chance to debate what action to pursue. The United States is not a member of the forum, having quit two years ago.
Maj Gen Suleimani, leader of the of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Quds Force, was a pivotal figure in orchestrating Iran's campaign to drive US forces out of Iraq, and built up Iran's network of proxy armies across the Middle East. Washington had accused the deceased commander of masterminding attacks by Iranian-aligned militias on US forces in the region.
"Major General Suleimani 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," Ms Callamard wrote in the report.
The drone strike on January 3 was the first known incident in which a nation invoked self-defence as a justification for an attack against a state actor in the territory of a third country, Ms Callamard said.
Iran retaliated with a rocket attack on an Iraqi airbase where US forces were stationed. Hours later, Iranian forces on high alert mistakenly shot down a Ukrainian passenger airliner taking off from Tehran.
Iran has issued an arrest warrant for US President Donald Trump and 35 others over Suleimani's killing and has asked Interpol for help, Tehran prosecutor Ali Alqasimehr said last month, according to the semi-official Fars news agency.
A look back at the US attack on Suleimani
Updated: July 7, 2020 01:36 PM