‘To stop a war’: Did Soleimani killing violate international law?

After authorising the air strike that killed Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani at Baghdad airport on Friday, US President Donald Trump said the US had expected an “imminent attack” by Iran, while Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that Iran was planning “imminent action” that threatened US citizens.

In a Tweet on Sunday, Trump said: “They attacked us and we hit back”, while on Friday, the US Department of Defense stated that the attack was launched “to stop a war, not start one”.

According to experts on international law, the question of the legality of Trump’s decision turns on whether the US was reacting to an imminent attack. To meet the requirements for self-defence under international law, the US had to have acted to avert an imminent attack.

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