U.S. defends drone missile strikes

Oct. 23, 2013 at 12:25 PM

WASHINGTON, Oct. 23 (UPI) -- U.S. operations using drone missile strikes to target terrorists are "always" within the boundaries of international law, a State Department official said.

Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch issued separate reports Tuesday on U.S. policy of using missiles fired from unmanned drones to target suspected terrorists. Both reports questioned the legality of the operations, with AI saying the action may amount to war crimes.

Marie Harf, a spokeswoman for the U.S. State Department, defended the operations during her regular press briefing Tuesday.

"We believe that we are always operating in accordance with international law," she said. "We would strongly disagree with the notion in some of these reports to the extent that they claim that we are acting contrary to international law as well."

Human Rights Watch, in particular, questioned the targets hits by U.S. missile strikes.

Harf said civilian casualties were an unfortunate part of warfare but defended the selection of targets.

"There's a process that goes into how these operations are chosen, and as part of that process, we take every effort to limit these casualties," she said.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said drones are far better than conventional military power, which could cause a local outrage from the civilian population.

"U.S. counter-terrorism operations are precise, they are lawful, and they are effective," he said.

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