A UN report that declared the assassination of Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani near Baghdad airport “unlawful,” has stoked anger in the halls of the Pentagon, whose death by drone campaign has killed hundreds around the world, including women and children.
Typical of the Trump administration, the United States launched a vitriolic attack on the author of the UN report, accusing her of “giving a pass to terrorists” and “intellectual dishonesty” after she concluded that the US drone strike was largely unnecessary and a violation of human rights laws, Radio Free Europe reported.
Agnes Callamard, the UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary, or arbitrary executions, presented her findings on July 9 to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.
In a report released earlier this week, Callamard said the US had provided no specific evidence that showed Soleimani was planning an imminent attack against US interests, particularly in Iraq, the report said.
Therefore, the January 3 drone strike near Baghdad’s airport in which Soleimani was killed constituted an “arbitrary killing” for which the United States is responsible under international human rights law, she wrote.
“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,” State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said on July 8.
“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” the Human Rights Council in 2018, Ortagus said.
In retaliation for the assassination of Soleimani, who headed the Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), an Iranian ballistic-missile strike on January 8 targeted US bases in Iraq housing US forces, leaving some 110 US troops suffering from traumatic brain injuries, the report said.
According to Callamard, Iran’s retaliatory strikes were also unlawful.
The administration of President Donald Trump justified Soleimani’s killing by saying he was responsible for orchestrating attacks on US forces for years and in the process of planning further attacks on Americans and US allies in the region, the report said.
Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the leader of the Iran-backed Kataib Hezbollah militia and deputy head of Iraq’s state-sanctioned Popular Mobilization Units, was also killed in the January strike that targeted Soleimani.
Kataib Hezbollah and affiliated Iran-backed militia have been linked to multiple rocket attacks on US forces in Iraq, including one in late December that killed a US defense contractor and wounded several US and Iraqi soldiers at a military base in the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk, the report said.
As the head of the Quds Force, Soleimani was a key figure in supplying weapons and explosive devices to Iraqi insurgents that killed or wounded US soldiers in Iraq following the ouster of Saddam Hussein.