The Pentagon on Friday admitted that a drone strike in Kabul on Aug. 29 — initially calculated to target ISIS-K and prevent an attack on Americans troops — resulted in the deaths of 10 civilians, including seven children, The New York Times reports.
The U.S. military had reportedly incorrectly asserted the driver of the car targeted in the strike, Zemari Ahmadi, was connected to the Islamic State. What's more, the explosives officials believed to be loaded in the trunk of Ahmadi's car were likely just water bottles. "In short, the car posed no threat at all, investigators concluded," per the Times.
"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," said Commander of United States Central Command Gen. Kenneth McKenzie. He added that he is "fully responsible for this strike," and that it was "a tragic mistake," per the Military Times.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said the department will "endeavor to learn from this horrible mistake." Ahmadi, the driver of the targeted vehicle, "was just as innocent a victim as were the others tragically killed," he said.
Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley, who had previously defended the Aug. 29 drone operation as a "righteous strike," also condemned the "horrible tragedy."
"In a dynamic high-threat environment, the commanders on the ground had appropriate authority and had reasonable certainty that the target was valid," said Milley, "but after deeper post-strike analysis, our conclusion is that innocent civilians were killed." Read more at The New York Times and CNN.