On November 3rd, Lt. Gen. Sami Said, U.S. Air Force inspector general, held a briefing at the Pentagon to discuss the drone strike in Kabul that killed Afghan civilians.
He said an investigation found “no violation of law” but did find “execution errors.”
Said said he didn’t find “violations of law or the law of war” and the officials behind the strike “truly believed at the time that they were targeting an imminent threat.”
The full report on the strike, which includes several recommendations on how to avoid similar incidents in the future, is classified.
Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff of California, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, called for the classified report to be “provided immediately” to Congress.
“I remain unconvinced that the Department of Defense summary of the classified investigation … provides for real accountability,” Schiff said in a statement.
The August 29 strike occurred just days after an ISIS-K attack in Kabul killed 13 US service members and 170 Afghans, putting the US military on edge as it sought to complete evacuations amid chaotic circumstances following the Taliban takeover earlier that month.
Initially, the US military falsely claimed the strike targeted an imminent ISIS-K threat.
CENTCOM’s first statement on the strike said the following:
“We are assessing the possibilities of civilian casualties, though we have no indications at this time.”
In a subsequent statement, CENTCOM added:
“We are aware of reports of civilian casualties following our strike on a vehicle in Kabul today. We are still assessing the results of this strike … We would be deeply saddened by any potential loss of innocent life.”
In mid-September, the US military admitted that the strike mistakenly targeted an aid worker and killed civilians.
“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,” Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, the head of CENTCOM, told reporters at the time. The Marine Corps general said the strike “did not come up to our standards” and that “clearly the intelligence was wrong.”
In testimony to the House Armed Services Committee in late September, McKenzie told lawmakers that the US military was aware within four to five hours that the strike hit civilians.
Still, 10 civilians were killed, 7 of them were children, but it is acceptable as the drone operator who carried out the strike initially thought it was an ISIS-K terrorist nest. It didn’t violate the “rules of war” and an apology and an empty promise to improve decision-making is all that’s being given.
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