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Are Targeted Drone Strikes Allowed Under Just-War Theory?

WASHINGTON — A U.S. drone strike that killed a top Iranian official on Friday has ignited discussion of the Catholic Church’s teaching on just war theory. One theologian talked to CNA about the morality of targeting military leaders.

Early on Friday morning at a Baghdad airport, Iran’s head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Quds Force, Qasem Soleimani, was killed by drone strikes, for which the U.S. later claimed responsibility. Soleimani’s forces are listed by the U.S. as a foreign terrorist organization. Also killed in the strikes was Iraqi militia leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, known for helping fight against ISIS.

The strikes are the latest episode in a series of interactions between the U.S. and Iran in the region, that are causing concern of an intensifying conflict. After an American contractor was killed by a rocket barrage in Iraq last week, the U.S. retaliated against Iranian-backed Shiite militias it said was responsible for the attack. The U.S. counterattack killed 25 Iraqis.

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