US refutes reports, insists drone strikes are legitimate

Updated October 22, 2013

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White House spokesman Jay Carney. — File Photo by AP
White House spokesman Jay Carney. — File Photo by AP

WASHINGTON: The United States on Tuesday denied its drone strikes in Yemen and Pakistan and elsewhere infringed international law and said it did all it could to avoid civilian casualties.

The comments followed the publication of reports on the US drone war by two human rights groups, and came a day before Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is expected to bring up concerns about the US tactic at the White House talks with President Barrack Obama.

“We are reviewing these reports carefully,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said. “To the extent these reports claim that the US has acted contrary to international law, we would strongly disagree.”

“The administration has repeatedly emphasised the extraordinary care that we take to make sure counter-terrorism actions are in accordance with all applicable law.”

Carney also said that by deciding to use drone aircraft against terror suspects, rather than sending in troops or using other weapons, Washington was “choosing the course of action least likely to result in the loss of innocent life.”

Earlier, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch unveiled reports detailing civilian casualties in a number of US operations in Pakistan and Yemen.

Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International are jointly calling on the US Congress to fully investigate the cases the two organisations have documented as well as other potentially unlawful strikes, and to disclose any evidence of human rights violations to the public.

Those responsible for unlawful killings should be appropriately disciplined or prosecuted, they demanded.

The groups called on President Obama to provide a full legal rationale for targeted killings in Yemen, Pakistan and elsewhere.