‘The blow was delivered with genuine confidence, but it was a mistake’

Zhanna Odnozerkina

The US military leadership admitted its mistake in the situation with the drone st-rike in Kabul. The investigation showed that the car, which was targeted because of the possible pr-esence of an IS terrorist, was in fact driving an A-fghani unrelated to the m-ilitants. The impact killed ten people, most of whom were children. The White House has not yet commented on the incident.

Investigation results

US Central Command has completed its investigation into a drone strike in Kabul last month that killed at least ten people, including seven children. General Frank Mackenzie, speaking with a video message, admitted that, apparently, the car attacked by the United States did not pose a threat associated with IS.

“This strike was delivered with the sincere confidence that it would prevent an imminent threat to our forces and those evacuated at the airport, but it was a mistake and I sincerely apologize. As a commander, I bear full responsibility for this tragic outcome, ”the officer added. Going forward, Macke-nzie stressed, such drone attacks can be expected to be conducted by the military to a higher standard.

Head of Headquarters Ministry of Defense of the United States Lloyd Austin ordered a thorough investigation of the analysis and conclusions.

“I asked for this to determine the extent to which the investigation takes into account all available context and information. We apologize and will try to learn from this terrible mistake, ”the statement reads.

At the same time, according to the Minister of Defense, “no army in the world works harder to avoid [during military conflicts] civilian casualties,” and the drone situation does not change that.

“When we have reason to believe that we have taken an innocent life, we investigate it and, if true, admit it. But we also need to work just as hard to ensure that no recurrence occurs – no matter the circumstances, intelligence, or pressures under which we operate, ”General Austin said.

First conclusions

The erroneous American drone attack in one of the districts of the capital of Afghanistan occurred on August 29, two days before the complete withdrawal of the American military contingent from the country. This was in response to a terrorist attack carried out two days earlier at the Kabul airport. Then the explosions claimed the lives of 200 people, including 13 US military personnel. After that, President Joe Biden promised to make the terrorists “pay”.

As the family of one of the victims told CNN, unmanned aerial vehicles watched the potential threat for several minutes. After that, a blow was struck. As it turned out, at that time a man-driver Zamarai Ahmadi was getting out of a car in a residential area with a child, other children were in the vehicle and in the yard. They all died.

“Mr. Ahmadi turned out to be an innocent victim, like the others tragically killed,” the US Secretary of Defense now admits.

Initially, the Pentagon claimed that the target was destroyed. The military assumed that an IS terrorist was in the car (Akhmadi was mistaken for him), who was involved in the explosions at the airport. As evidence, they cited the fact that the destroyed car allegedly contained explosives. Later it turned out that it was not a bomb that exploded, but a propane cylinder standing near the car. Moreover, as The Times found out, the deceased Ahmadi worked as a driver for a non-profit American organization and applied to the United States for granting him refugee status. On the day of his death, he was transporting water.

Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mark Millie called the operation “righteous” shortly after the attack. However, a military official familiar with the investigation quickly told CNN that it was the wrong car. He added that the confidence of the military could not be an absolute guarantee of the success of the strike.

Another US government interlocutor who specializes directly in airstrikes noted that ten civilian deaths are “an astronomically high number.”

“If we had worked with any local [source], we would never have fired a rocket at the vehicle, but would have tried to get to the driver before he got into the car. This suggests that we have information about the car and not about the people, possibly after the car was already en route. This leaves far fewer options for action, ”explained an unnamed former intelligence official.

Who will answer

President Biden is known to have been informed of the results of the investigation. The White House, however, has not yet commented on this. The human rights organization Amnesty International called on the United States to punish those responsible for the deaths of Afghan citizens. Mackenzie, in his statement, did not comment on whether Defense Department officials would be held accountable.

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