US says UN report is 'whitewashing' Qassem Suleimani's past

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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - The US on Wednesday blasted a UN report that found the drone strike that killed a top Iranian general in Iraq was unlawful.

Qassem Suleimani, leader of Iran's Islamic Republic Guard Corps' Quds Force, and others died in the strike at Baghdad airport in January.

"It takes a special kind of intellectual dishonesty to issue a report condemning the US for acting in self-defence while whitewashing Gen Suleimani's notorious past as one of the world's deadliest terrorists," State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said.

"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 UN Human Rights Council.

Agnes Callamard, the UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, found on Tuesday that Suleimani's killing breached the UN charter.

The report found the US failed to provide enough evidence of a continuing or imminent attack against its interests to justify the strike on his convoy, which also killed Abu Mahdi Al Muhandis, head of the Iran-backed Iraqi militia Kataib Hezbollah.

"Suleimani was in charge of Iran's military strategy and actions in Syria and Iraq," Ms Callamard wrote.

A burning vehicle near Baghdad International Airport, Iraq. Security Media Cell / EPA

A burning vehicle near Baghdad International Airport, Iraq. Security Media Cell / EPA

A burning vehicle near Baghdad International Airport, Iraq. Security Media Cell / EPA

Qassem Suleimani, head of the Revolutionary Guard's foreign operations branch, the Quds Force, was killed in a US rocket strike at Baghdad International Airport. AFP

Suleimani, centre, began to rise in stature during the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq War. Getty Images

Suleimani and Hadi Al Amiri, head of Iraqi Badr organisation, in Iraq during the fight against ISIS.

Suleimani, the commander of Iran's Quds Force, drinking tea in Tikrit in 2015.

Suleimani and Iraqi Shiite cleric, politician, and militia leader Moqtada Al Sadr in Tehran. AFP

Suleimani during a meeting with Syria's President Bashar al-Assad, centre, and his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani in Tehran in 2019. AFP

Suleimani uses a walkie-talkie at the frontline during offensive operations against Islamic State militants in the town of Tal Ksaiba in Salahuddin province in 2015. Reuters

Suleimani walks near an armoured vehicle in Tal Ksaiba in Salahuddin province. Reuters

Suleimani stands at the frontline in Tal Ksaiba. Reuters

Suleimani attends an annual rally commemorating the anniversary of the 1979 Islamic revolution, in Tehran in 2016. AP Photo

Suleimani was one of the Revolutionary Guard officers sent to Lebanon to organise the formation of Shiite militia groups during the Lebanese Civil War. Out of his efforts rose the now regionally dominant Hezbollah. AP

Suleimani became close to Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah while assisting the rise of the group. AFP

Together, the pair planned countless Hezbollah actions inside and outside of Lebanon.

Suleimani was close to Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, seated.

Under Suleimani, the Quds Force helped Iraqi militias carry out a deadly attacks on American and coalition troops following the US-led invasion in 2003. AFP

In Syria, Suleimani served as commander-in-chief of Iran’s operations in support of Bashar Al Assad’s regime. AFP

Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei with Suleimani in 2015. AFP

Ms Callamard called for accountability in killings by armed drones and for greater regulation of the weapons.

She will present her findings on Thursday to the Human Rights Council, from which US President Donald withdrew in 2018, saying it was biased against Israel.

Mr Trump ordered the drone strike after escalating tension between the US and Iran, against which he has imposed sweeping unilateral sanctions.

Militia groups backed by Iran had been blamed for attacks on bases housing US troops and later for trashing the US embassy in Baghdad.

Trump administration officials later faced grilling by legislators, mainly Democrats, who said there was no evidence of an imminent attack that would legally justify killing Suleimani.

The Quds Force is the Guard's elite foreign operations branch.

A look back at the US attack on Suleimani

Updated: July 9, 2020 02:17 AM

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