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    UN to investigate legality of drone strikes

    KABUL (PAN): The United Nations will investigate drone attacks that have killed a large number of militants and civilians in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia, a British newspaper reported on Thursday.

    The Guardian quoted a British lawyer heading the inquiry as saying that he would reveal the full scope of his review, which would include checks on military use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

    He told the daily the drones were used in UK operations in Afghanistan, US strikes in Pakistan and Sahel region of Africa, in addition to evidence on Israeli drone attacks in Palestinian territories.

    Emmerson, the UN special rapporteur, will report to the UN General Assembly in New York later this year. Expected to suggest further action, the lawyer has previously suggested some drone attacks, particularly those known as double tap strikes, could possibly constitute a war crime.

    Around 20 to 30 strikes would be studied to determine the level of civilian casualties, the identity of the targeted militants and the legality of the raids, especially in countries which have not been declared conflicts zones by the UN.

    With UN staff in Geneva already examining details of individual drone strikes, Emmerson said his dossier of evidence might not lead to direct "attribution of legal liability" but would enable him to put allegations to the states responsible and obtain a response.

    Between June 2004 and September 2012, according to research by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, drone strikes killed between 2,562 and 3,325 people in Pakistan, including up to 881 civilians.

    PAN Monitor/mud