On January 3, a U.S. drone strike near Baghdad International Airport assassinated General Soleimani, former commander of the Quds Force of Iran's Islamic Revolution Guards Corps.
The United States has failed to provide sufficient evidence of an ongoing or imminent attack against its interests to justify the strike on Soleimani's convoy as it left Baghdad airport, said Agnes Callamard, the UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions. "Absent an actual imminent threat to life, the course of action taken by the USA was unlawful", Callamard wrote in a report that she presented Thursday to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.
The report concluded that the strike violated global law, in part because the USA failed to provide sufficient evidence of an ongoing, or imminent, attack against its interests to justify the strike.
Pompeo went on to say that the U.S. had been "transparent regarding the global law basis for the strike".
In a statement released late Thursday, Pompeo accused the United Nations of drawing false conclusions and referred to the assessment as "spurious". He said Callamard "gives more cause to distrust United Nations human rights mechanisms".
But so far, "they are deterred because in the mind of the opponent - the Iranians - they believe, that the goal that they desire - ejection of the United States from the theater - will be more painful than the value of attaining it - that's classic deterrence theory", he said. The US is responsible for this criminal act, & can't whitewash this by chastising the UN.
Callamard wrote that the strike targeting Soleimani was "qualitatively different" from other drone strikes that targeted non-state actors.
The Aramco attack highlighted for McKenzie what he says is the most worrisome threat USA forces and allies face in the region today: "It is the small drone - it's the Costco-purchased drone" because "if you can see it with a larger radar cross-section we can engage it with traditional measures".
Callamard, expanding on her report on Twitter on Wednesday, noted the rapid proliferation of drones around the world.
Callamard said under global law, killings by drone could be justified in certain circumstances - most importantly in the case of self-defence.
"Iran recognizes that we have the capability in the theater to make it very painful for them to launch a direct or indirect attack against either us or one of our partners or allies", McKenzie, who heads U.S. Central Command, said in a telephone interview Thursday.
In June, Iran issued an arrest warrant for US President Donald Trump and others for their role in the killing of Soleimani and the other victims of the attack.
The report, which calls for accountability for targeted killings by armed drones and for greater regulation of the weapons, says the drone strike violated the UN Charter.
"The right legal course of action to hold people suspected of serious war crimes, like Mr Soleimani, accountable for their actions would be arresting them and putting them in front of a court and serve justice to his victims", Zwijnenburg said.
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