In what the Pentagon is calling a ‘tragic mistake’ - the U.S. military on Friday admitted that a drone strike in Kabul last month killed as many as 10 civilians, including up to seven children.
Senior U.S. officers had previously said the August 29th strike - that took place as foreign troops completed the last stages of their withdrawal from Afghanistan - targeted an Islamic State suicide bomber who posed an imminent threat to Kabul airport.
But following an investigation - U.S. General Frank McKenzie admitted Friday they were wrong:
“...We now assess that it is unlikely that the vehicle and those who died were associated with ISIS-K or were a direct threat to US forces. I offer my profound condolences to the family and friends of those who were killed. This strike was taken in the earnest belief that it would prevent an imminent threat to our forces and the evacuees at the airport. But it was a mistake, and I offer my sincere apology.”
McKenzie said the Pentagon is considering reparations for the civilians killed.
Friday’s announcement comes weeks after reports emerged that civilians, including children, were the victims of the drone strike… One that came three days after an Islamic State suicide bomber killed 13 U.S. troops and scores of Afghan civilians who had crowded outside Kabul’s airport, desperate to evacuate after the Taliban swept to power.
"...We did not have the luxury of time to develop a pattern of life and to do a number of other things. We struck under the theory of reasonable certainty. Probably our strikes in Afghanistan going forward will be under a higher standard. That's a policy matter, not a purely military matter. But I don't think you should draw any conclusions about our ability to strike in Afghanistan against ISIS-K targets in the future based on this particular strike.”
While it is rare for senior Pentagon officials to apologize personally for civilians killed in strikes, the U.S. military does put out reports on civilians killed in operations around the world.
In a statement, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said the August 29th drone strike had killed a man who worked for a non-profit called Nutrition and Education International.
Austin said he asked for a review of the strike investigation, which could include "accountability measures"