GENEVA (Dispatches) -- The January U.S. drone strike in Iraq that assassinated top Iranian general Qassem Soleimani and nine other people represented a violation of international law, a UN human rights investigator said on Monday.
The United States has failed to provide sufficient evidence of an ongoing or imminent attack against its interests to justify the strike on Gen. Soleimani’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, Callamard wrote in a report calling for accountability for assassinations 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,” Callamard, an independent investigator, told Reuters.
Callamard is due on Thursday to present her findings to the Human Rights Council, 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.
Gen. Soleimani, commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC)’ Quds Force, was a pivotal figure in fighting foreign-backed Takfiri terrorists across the Middle East.
"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 U.S. was unlawful,” Callamard wrote in the report.
Several million people attended funeral processions held for Gen. Soleimani and his companions in the Iraqi cities of Kadhimiya, Baghdad, Karbala and Najaf as well as the Iranian cities of Ahvaz, Mashhad, Tehran, Qom and Kerman.
Former U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton in his new book, "The Room Where It Happened,” has highlighted President Donald Trump’s views on the fight against Daesh in Afghanistan and elsewhere.
Bolton writes that when former U.S. secretary of defense General James Mattis talked about the threat of Daesh in Afghanistan, Trump said, "Let Russia take care of them. We’re seven thousand miles away but we’re still the target, they’ll come to our shores, that’s what they all say.”
"I don’t understand why we’re killing ISIS in Syria. Why aren’t Russia and Iran doing it? I’ve played this game for so long. Why are we killing ISIS for Russia and Iran, Iraq, which is controlled by Iran?” he asked, using an alternative name for Daesh.
The Jan. 3 drone strike was the first known incident in which a nation invoked self-defense as a justification for an attack against a state actor in the territory of a third country, Callamard added.
Iran retaliated with a rocket attack on an Iraqi air base where U.S. forces were stationed.
Iran has issued an arrest warrant for Trump and 35 others over Gen. Soleimani’s assassination and has asked Interpol for help, Tehran prosecutor Ali Alqasimehr said on June 29.
Alqasimehr said Trump and others involved in the Jan. 3 assassination face "murder and terrorism charges”.
NBC News has revealed that the details of the assassination, saying the terrorist operation used Israeli intelligence and was run from the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) headquarters in Qatar.