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'The Strike Was a Tragic Mistake'

Pentagon says Kabul strike in August killed only civilians, no terrorists
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Sep 17, 2021 2:30 PM CDT
Pentagon: Drone Strike Was 'Tragic Mistake'
In this Aug. 30, 2021, file photo Gen. Frank McKenzie, commander of US Central Command, appears on screen as he speaks from MacDill Air Force Base, in Tampa, Fla., during a virtual briefing moderated by Pentagon spokesman John Kirby.   (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, File)

(Newser) – The Pentagon retreated from its defense of a drone strike that killed multiple civilians in Afghanistan last month, announcing Friday that an internal review revealed that only civilians were killed in the attack, not an Islamic State extremist as first believed. “The strike was a tragic mistake," Marine Gen. Frank McKenzie, head of US Central Command, told a Pentagon news conference, per the AP. McKenzie said the vehicle was struck “in the earnest belief” that the targeted vehicle posed an imminent threat. “I am now convinced that as many as 10 civilians, including up to seven children, were tragically killed in that strike," he said.

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“Moreover, we now assess that it is unlikely that the vehicle and those who died were associated with ISIS-K, or a direct threat to US forces," he added, referring to the Islamic State group's Afghanistan affiliate. For days after the Aug. 29 strike, Pentagon officials asserted that it had been conducted correctly, despite numerous civilians being killed, including children. News organizations later raised doubts about that version of events, reporting that the driver of the targeted vehicle was a longtime employee at an American humanitarian organization and citing an absence of evidence to support the Pentagon's assertion that the vehicle contained explosives.

(Read more drone strike stories.)

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