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U.N. report critical of drone attacks

UNITED NATIONS, June 3 (UPI) -- Washington should transfer authority of unmanned aerial drone strikes from the CIA to the military, a non-binding U.N. report said Thursday.

U.S. military officials are heralding a May strike against al-Qaida No. 3 Mustafa Abu Yazid in Pakistan as a sign of a successful counter-terrorism campaign.

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Philip Alston, the U.N. special envoy on extrajudicial executions, in a 29-page report calls on Washington to show restraint in its use of drone strikes outside of war zones in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Alston said before turning the report over Thursday that there would be sufficient accountability in place if the U.S. military was handling the strikes, London's Independent newspaper reports.

"The whole process that follows is very open," he said. "Whereas if the CIA is doing it, by definition, they are not going to answer questions … there is no willingness to comply with any of the requirements as to transparency and accountability."

U.S. Defense Department officials said the nature of the intelligence needed for the drone strikes meant the operations were best left in CIA hands, the Independent added.

Critics of the strikes complain that many take place out of official war zones and the potential for collateral damage is high. CIA officers, meanwhile, are not subject to the same laws of war as the military.

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The Alston report has no legal standing.

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