29 September (WNN) — Three top US military officials told Congress on Wednesday that they learned civilians had been killed within hours of a US drone strike in Kabul last month, but learned the target had been made in error.
The Defense Department launched an attack on August 29, three days after an explosion at Kabul airport that killed dozens, including 13 US Marines, as they evacuated the capital. The Pentagon believed it was targeting at least one Islamic State-Khorasan province member and was eliminating another threat to the airport when it launched a drone strike.
However, the Pentagon announced on September 17 that the vehicle he collided with was not linked to ISIS-K, but rather that of an activist from the aid group Nutrition and Education International. Ten civilians, including seven children, died.
US Central Command General Frank McKenzie answers questions about the strike by members of the House Committee on Armed Services. The hearing took place a day after McKenzie, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley also testified before a Senate panel.
“Well, so, we knew that the civilians were on strike within four or five hours of the strike,” McKenzie said. “And the US Central Command issued a press release saying this. We didn’t know the target of the attack was an error, a mistake a few days later, but we knew too soon.”
Meanwhile, Milley told the panel that former President Donald Trump had originally signed an order in November to withdraw US troops by January 15, 2021, but the order was later rescinded. Milley said he was not consulted on the order.
Milley and McKenzie said they did not initially plan to remove large numbers of special immigrant visa holders – the planning process did not begin until early spring 2021.
“Our plan was mainly to bring out American citizens and people associated with the embassy,” McKenzie said. “The plan later started to include the larger population, the at-risk Afghan population, the SIV population.”
Milley said the military conducted a series of rehearsals and drills to practice the US military’s evacuation and withdrawal exercise beginning in April.
Speaking on the threats left after the United States completed its withdrawal on August 31, Austin said that as part of the Doha Agreement of February 2020, thousands of Taliban prisoners were released, many of them in the ranks of the Taliban. had joined.
Milley said al-Qaeda or ISIS could gain strength in the coming months or years.
“It’s not a real possibility in the not-too-distant future, 6, 12, 18, 24, 36 months, that kind of time frame for the reorganization of al-Qaeda or ISIS and it’s our job now to, you know, various under the circumstances, but it is our job to continue to protect American citizens from attacks in Afghanistan.”