The Pentagon backtracked on its defense of a drone strike that killed several civilians in Afghanistan last month, announcing Friday that a review showed only civilians were killed in the attack, not an Islamic State extremist, as previously was considered.
“The strike was a tragic mistake,” Marine General Frank McKenzie, the head of US Central Command, said at a Pentagon news conference.
Watch the news conference in player above.
For the days following the August 29 strike, Pentagon officials claimed it had operated correctly, despite killing 10 civilians, including seven children. News organizations later raised doubts about that version of events, reporting that the driver of the targeted vehicle was a longtime employee at a US humanitarian organization and citing the Pentagon’s absence of evidence to support this claim. Giving that there were explosives in the vehicle.
McKenzie said the vehicle was struck “in the grave belief” that it was an imminent danger.
“I am now convinced that at least 10 civilians, including seven children, were tragically killed in that attack,” McKenzie said. “Furthermore, we now assess that it is unlikely that the vehicle and those killed were linked to ISIS-K, or a direct threat to the US military,” he told the Islamic State group’s Afghanistan affiliate. Referring to.
McKenzie apologized for the mistake and said the United States was considering paying compensation to the families of the victims.
Read more: 10 civilians including 7 children killed in Kabul airstrike, Pentagon admits
General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters two days after the attack that it appeared to be a “religious” strike and that at least one of those killed was an “accomplice” to the Islamic State group. Afghanistan ally, which killed 169 Afghan civilians and 13 US service members in a suicide bombing at Kabul airport on August 26.
Milley expressed regret after McKenzie’s remarks.
The airstrikes were the last of a US war that began in 2001 – with the Taliban in power in Kabul. The speed with which the Taliban took over the country surprised the US government and forced it to send several thousand troops to Kabul airport to quickly evacuate Americans, Afghans and others. The evacuation, which began on 14 August, came under the almost constant threat of attack by the Islamic State group’s Afghanistan ally.