In a stunning admission, the Pentagon says it was innocent civilians and not members of the ISIS-K terrorist group who were killed by an American drone strike in Kabul in the final days of the U.S. evacuation.
Speaking on a video feed during a press briefing on Friday, Marine General Frank McKenzie of U.S. Central Command said a review of intelligence showed that the August 29 attack in Afghanistan killed an aid worker and multiple members of his family, not extremists. The Pentagon says as many as ten people, including seven children, were killed in the blast.
“The strike was a tragic mistake,” Gen. McKenzie said. He apologized for the deadly error and said the United States is considering making reparation payments to the family of the victims. The general said the decision to bomb the white Toyota Corolla sedan was based on a standard of what he called “reasonable certainty” after tracking it for eight hours. Military officials believed the vehicle was carrying explosives in the truck and that it posed an imminent threat to American forces at Kabul’s airport. That was the sight of an attack three days earlier in which 13 American servicemembers and 169 Afghans were killed in a terrorist attack.
BREAKING: Drone strike that the U.S. military said targeted terrorists in Kabul mistakenly killed 10 civilians, including 7 children, Pentagon says. https://t.co/jS1RbZw0cg
— NBC News (@NBCNews) September 17, 2021
From the Associated Press:
Prior to the strike, U.S. intelligence had indicated a likelihood that a white Toyota Corolla would be used in an attack against U.S. forces, McKenzie said. On the morning of Aug. 29, such a vehicle was detected at a compound in Kabul that U.S. intelligence in the preceding 48 hours had determined was used by the Islamic State group to plan and facilitate attacks. The vehicle was tracked by U.S. drone aircraft from that compound to numerous other locations in the city before the decision was made to attack it at a point just a couple of miles from Kabul airport, McKenzie said.
“Clearly our intelligence was wrong on this particular white Toyota Corolla,” he said.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, in a written statement, apologized for what he called “a horrible mistake.”
In the days following the Aug. 29 strike, Pentagon officials insisted it had carried out the attack properly. But investigations by various news organizations raised doubts about the military’s version of events. It was reported that the driver of the targeted vehicle was a longtime employee at an American humanitarian organization. There was also no evidence supporting the Pentagon’s assertion that the Corolla contained explosives.
The Pentagon acknowledged on Friday that a U.S. drone strike in Afghanistan on Aug. 29 that officials said was necessary to prevent an attack on US troops was a tragic mistake that killed 10 civilians including seven children @EricSchmittNYT @helenecooper https://t.co/rdeCdoethQ
— Eric Lipton (@EricLiptonNYT) September 17, 2021
The airstrike is yet another controversy facing the Biden Administration and its chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan after nearly 20 years of war.
BREAKING: Innocent civilians, not extremists, were killed in Aug. 29 U.S. drone strike in Kabul, the head of U.S. Central Command says. https://t.co/Fc2rSy48W1
— The Associated Press (@AP) September 17, 2021