The January US drone attack in Iraq, which killed Iranian general Qassem Soleimani and nine others, was a violation of international law, a UN human rights researcher said on Monday.
The United States has not provided sufficient evidence of a continuing or impending attack on its interests to justify the strike on Soleimani's convoy leaving Baghdad Airport, said Agnes Callamard, UN special rapporteur for extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions.
The attack violated the UN charter, Callamard wrote in a report calling for responsibility for targeted killings by armed drones and increased regulation of weapons.
"The world is at a critical time and a possible turning point when it comes to using drones. … The Security Council is lacking in action; the international community is largely silent, whether voluntary or not," said Callamard independent investigator, Reuters said.
Callamard will present its results to the Human Rights Council on Thursday so that Member States can discuss what action to take. The United States is not a member of the forum after resigning two years ago.
Soleimani, leader of the Quds Force of the Revolutionary Guards, has been a key figure in orchestrating the Iranian campaign to drive US forces out of Iraq and built the Iranian network of proxy armies in the Middle East. Washington had accused Soleimani of carrying out attacks by Iranian-style militias on US forces in the region.
"Maj. Gen. Soleimani was responsible for Iran's military strategy and actions in Syria and Iraq. However, since there was no immediate threat to life, the United States' conduct was illegal," Callamard wrote in the report.
The January 3 drone attack was the first known incident in which a nation invoked self-defense to justify an attack on a state actor in the territory of a third country, Callamard added.
Iran returned the favor of a missile attack on an Iraqi air base where US forces were stationed. Hours later, the Iranian Armed Forces, on high alert, mistakenly shot down a Ukrainian passenger plane that was taking off from Tehran.
Iran has issued an arrest warrant for U.S. President Donald Trump and 35 others for Soleimani's murder and asked Interpol for help, Tehran prosecutor Ali Alqasimehr said on June 29, the semi-official Fars news agency.