US Acknowledges Kabul Airstrike Killed 10 Civilians, Not ISIS-K Terrorists

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Gen. Frank McKenzie offered his “profound condolences” to the victims’ families.

Central Command Commander Gen. Frank McKenzie laid out the results of the Pentagon’s investigation into the August 29 airstrike, acknowledging the US military made a “tragic mistake” in carrying it out.

Michael Hernandez

WASHINGTON — The US acknowledged on Friday that an August 29 airstrike on a vehicle in Kabul, Afghanistan resulted in the deaths of 10 civilians, including an aid worker and up to seven children.

Central Command Commander Gen. Frank McKenzie laid out the results of the Pentagon’s investigation into the strike, acknowledging the US military made a “tragic mistake” in carrying it out.

“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,” he said, referring to Daesh/ISIS’ Afghanistan affiliate, which is known as Khorasan Province, or ISIS-K.

McKenzie offered his “profound condolences” to the victims’ families, and said it “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. And as the combatant commander I am fully responsible for this strike and its tragic outcome,” he told Pentagon reporters.

The Pentagon is “exploring the possibility” of making reparation payments to the victims’ families, and is “very interested in doing that,” McKenzie added.

The strike took place three days after Daesh/ISIS-K affiliate carried out a multiple suicide bomber attack on Kabul’s international airport that left nearly 200 people dead, including scores of Afghans seeking to flee the country following its Taliban takeover.

McKenzie said the military is “in the process right now of” determining if disciplinary action will be taken against those involved in the attack.

Shortly after the Central Command top general laid out the probe’s findings, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin voiced his condolences.

“On behalf of the men and women of the Department of Defense, I offer my deepest condolences to surviving family members of those who were killed, including Mr. Ahmadi, and to the staff of Nutrition and Education International, Mr. Ahmadi’s employer,” he said in a statement, referring to longtime aid work Zemari Ahmadi who was killed in the strike.

“We now know that there was no connection between Mr. Ahmadi and ISIS-Khorasan, that his activities on that day were completely harmless and not at all related to the imminent threat we believed we faced, and that Mr. Ahmadi was just as innocent a victim as were the others tragically killed. We apologize, and we will endeavor to learn from this horrible mistake,” added Austin. — AA

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