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Critics allege drone policy may be violating world law

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Predator B drone
In this Nov. 8, 2011 file photo, a Predator B unmanned aircraft taxied at the Naval Air Station in Corpus Christi, Texas.
AP Photo/Eric Gay, File

When Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said Tuesday that U.S. drone attacks were an obstacle to good relations with his country, he wasn't raising a new issue. America's use of drones has been a particular target for international criticism in recent days.

"This issue has become a major irritant in our bilateral relationship ... I would therefore stress the need for an end to the drone attacks," Sharif said on the eve of his visit to the United States. 

He might have added that the attacks are a possible violation of international law, as well. Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have alleged that the U.S. drone program is killing civilians in ways that may be illegal or indiscriminate. U.S. officials have rejected the accusations.