March 5 (UPI) -- Judges of the International Criminal Court ruled Thursday that investigations can go forward into whether forces of the United States, Afghanistan and the Taliban committed war crimes.
The judges voted unanimously to authorize the inquiries, which cover purported war crimes committed since 2003, as well as other crimes that "have a nexus to the armed conflict in Afghanistan" and were "committed on the territory of other States Parties" since 2002.
The ICC's pre-trial body had initially rejected the request because of a lack of cooperation from the Afghanistan government, the Taliban and the United States.
"The Appeals chamber considers it appropriate to ... authorize the investigation," Judge Piotr Hofmanski wrote in the 35-page ruling.
On Thursday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called the ICC's decision "a truly breathtaking action by an unaccountable political institution masquerading as a legal body."
He made the comment during a press conference, calling the move "reckless" as it was announced days after the United States signed a peace deal to end the nearly two-decade war in Afghanistan.
"This is yet another reminder of what happens when multilateral bodies lack oversight and responsible leadership and become, instead, a vehicle for political vendettas," Pompeo said. "The ICC today stumbled into a sorry affirmation of every denunciation made by its harshest critics over the last three decades."
The Trump administration had rebuffed ICC chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda's request to investigate the actions of U.S. troops in Afghanistan a year ago, and the State Department revoked Bensouda's visa and said it would deny access to other ICC staffers investigation the U.S. military.
"Having considered the prosecutor's grounds of appeal against the pre-trial chamber's decision, as well as the observations and submissions of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, representatives of victims and other participants, the appeals chamber found that the pre-trial chamber erred in considering the 'interests of justice factor' when examining the prosecutor's request for authorization to open an investigation," the ICC said in a statement.
The ICC investigates and rules on cases involving war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity suspected by nationals of a signatory state or supposedly happened on the territory of one of its member states.