On Friday, the Pentagon admitted that they "mistook" a civilian vehicle for an ISIS-K threat, and launched a drone strike that killed 10 civilians in Kabul on August 29.
“I am now convinced that as many as 10 civilians, including up to seven children, were tragically killed in that strike,” said U.S. Central Command head Gen. Frank McKenzie. “Moreover, we analyzed that it is unlikely that the vehicle and those who died were associated with ISIS-K or were a direct threat to U.S. forces.”
"Our investigation now concludes that the strike was a tragic mistake," he continued, adding his "profound condolences to the family and friends of those who were killed."
"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. As the combatant commander, I am fully responsible for the strike and this tragic outcome," McKenzie said.
The Hill reports:
Pentagon officials had previously asserted that at least one ISIS-K member and three civilians were killed when the U.S. military struck a vehicle it said was “an imminent ISIS-K threat” to U.S. forces evacuating people at Kabul’s airport.
Shortly thereafter, reports emerged that the U.S. military targeted the driver of the vehicle, Zemari Ahmadi, based on dubious claims, including because they believed he may have had ties to ISIS and that explosives had been put in his vehicle.
But the driver did not have ties to the terrorist organization and instead was a worker at an aid group, Nutrition and Education International, the investigation found.
Centcom had also pointed to “significant secondary explosions” once the mistaken target was struck as evidence the vehicle was carrying a “substantial amount of explosive material.”
But McKenzie said the most likely cause of the accompanying blasts was “the ignition of gas from a propane tank located immediately behind the car. Such an ignition would have created a brief but massive fireball.”
In trying to explain the mistake, McKenzie said that in the 36 hours leading up to the strike the U.S. military had at least 60 different intelligence reports — some “corroborating and some conflicting” — about a threat to U.S. forces at Kabul’s airport.
“One of the most recurring aspects of the intelligence was that ISIS-K would utilize a white Toyota Corolla as a key element in the next attack,” he explained. “We didn't take the strike because we thought we were wrong, we took the strike because we thought we thought we had a good target."
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