The fatal U.S. strike on Iranian general Qassem Soleimani violated international law, a top United Nations expert claims.
The U.S. killed Soleimani in a drone strike in Iraq in January, prompting Iran to retaliate by firing missiles at U.S. military bases in Iraq.
Democratic lawmakers, as well as some Republican members, at the time questioned the legal justification for the strike and maintained that the threat Soleimani posed was not “imminent,” while Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has sharply rejected such speculation.
But a new report by the United Nations special rapporteur on extrajudicial killings released Thursday concludes that the U.S. did not issue enough evidence to justify an imminent threat to life posed by Soleimani.
The report, presented by UN special rapporteur Agnes Callamard, says that “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.”
Ms. Callamard said there was no evidence presented by the U.S. that pointed to an imminent attack against the U.S. or its interests that would be carried out by Soleimani.
The move in turn represented an “arbitrary killing,” she said, which violates international human rights law.
Ahead of the report’s formal release, State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus rejected the conclusion and said Wednesday that “it takes a special kind of intellectual dishonesty to issue a report condemning the United States for acting in self-defense while whitewashing General Soleimani’s notorious past as one of the world’s deadliest terrorists.”
“This tendentious and tedious report undermines human rights by giving a pass to terrorists and it proves once again why America was right to leave,” she said.
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