Pentagon says Kabul drone strike was a ‘tragic mistake’

FILE - In this Aug. 30, 2021, file photo Gen. Frank McKenzie, Commander of U.S. Central Command, appears on screen as he speaks from MacDill Air Force Base, in Tampa, Fla., as he speaks about Afghanistan during a virtual briefing moderated by Pentagon spokesman John Kirby at the Pentagon in Washington. The Pentagon retreated from its defense of a drone strike that killed multiple civilians in Afghanistan last month, announcing Friday, Sept. 17, that an internal review revealed that only civilians were killed in the attack, not an Islamic State extremist as first believed. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, File)

In this Aug. 30, 2021, file photo Gen. Frank McKenzie, Commander of U.S. Central Command, appears on screen as he speaks from MacDill Air Force Base, in Tampa, Fla., as he speaks about Afghanistan during a virtual briefing moderated by Pentagon spokesman John Kirby at the Pentagon in Washington. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, File)

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UPDATED 4:55 PM PT – Friday, September 17, 2021

The Pentagon admitted it made a “tragic mistake” after 10 civilians were killed in a U.S. airstrike in Kabul. Top officials acknowledged the error on Friday, saying the strike killed three adults and seven children and not ISIS-K terrorists as originally reported.

The target believed to be linked to the terrorist group turned out to be an innocent aid worker. Reports said military intelligence had tracked the target and his car for around eight hours after reportedly discovering it at a compound associated with ISIS-K. In addition, they said they also saw what they believed was explosives being loaded into the car, which turned out to be containers of water.

U.S. Marine Corps Gen. Kenneth McKenzie said the Aug. 29 strike was a mistake, adding they believed the victims posed an imminent threat to U.S. forces and evacuees at the Kabul airport. However, when he addressed the nation he said “we now assess that it is unlikely that the vehicle and those who died were associated with ISIS-K or a direct threat to U.S. forces.”

Targeting two ISIS-K operatives following last months deadly suicide bombing, the Pentagon maintained the strike was a success. The targeted vehicle was being driven by Zemari Ahmadi and all victims were from the same extended family.

McKenzie took full responsibility for the tragic outcome, offering his profound condolences to the victim’s families.

U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin also shared an apology for the strike, saying he’s conducted a “thorough review of the investigation.” He added the review would also consider the degree to which strike authorities, procedures and processes need to be altered in the future.

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