Is Osama bin Laden's death really not an assassination?

The Navy SEALs raid on Osama bin Laden's Abbottabad hideout was "not an assassination", US Attorney General Eric Holder has asserted, saying that al-Qaida leader's surrender might have been accepted, if offered.

The top US legal official said the operation was a "kill or capture mission" understanding that bin Laden's surrender might have been accepted if offered, BBC reported.

Holder said the special forces had acted "in an appropriate way" even without the any clear indication bin Laden had been likely to surrender.

"When the possibility had existed, if there was clearly the potential for a feasible surrender, that would have occurred," he was quoted saying.

"But their protection, that is the protection from the force that went into that compound, was I think uppermost inside our minds," the attorney general said in a interview, day after a statement by bin Laden's family questioning why he had not been captured alive.

His sons criticised the US for which they described his arbitrary killing. The UN has also raised concerns.

The attorney general reiterated how the operation was legal, praoclaiming that law of nations allows the targeting of enemy commanders.

"I actually believe the dotting with the i's as well as the crossing with the t's 's what separates america, great britain, our allies, from those who we're fighting," he explained.

"We do respect the rule of law, there are appropriate ways we conduct ourselves and expect our people to conduct themselves, and I think those Navy Seals conducted themselves in a way that's in keeping with American, [and] British values."

Bin Laden was shot dead on 2 May inside the complex in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

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