The U.S. military apologized for the US drone strike in Kabul in August that killed as many as 10 civilians, including seven children, calling it a “tragic mistake”.
After a review, the Pentagon had said in a statement that the attack was made to target an Islamic State suicide bomber who posed an imminent threat to U.S troops during their withdrawal from Afghanistan. It had been imposed just a few days after a deadly attack on US troops resulting in 13 soldiers’ deaths.
The head of U.S. Central Command, Marine Corps General Frank McKenzie, said that at the time he had been confident it averted an imminent threat to the forces at the airport. He also said it was righteous and not unreasonable as it also did not break any international convention of war rules.
McKenzie told reporters, “Our investigation now concludes that the strike was a tragic mistake.”
He said he now believes it unlikely that those killed were members of the local Islamic State affiliate, ISIS-Khorasan, or posed a threat to U.S. troops where pentagon preparation would have been more appropriate. There had been a series of mistakes and misinterpretations as it also failed to spot the children on target.
The confirmation of civilian deaths fuelled critics of the chaotic U.S. withdrawal and evacuation of Afghan allies both at US home politics and Taliban allies to gain a sentimental advantage.
Secretary Lloyd Austin said, “We apologize, and we will endeavor to learn from this horrible mistake.”
Bottom Line: The pentagon review of the August drone attack in Afghanistan that killed civilians including children reveals that it was a mistake and the tragedy could have been avoided with more operational perfection.