New Delhi | Jagran News Desk: A top general admitted the United States had made a "mistake" when it launched a drone strike against suspected ISIS terrorists in Kabul, killing 10 civilians including children instead during the frenzied final days of the US pullout from Afghanistan last month.

The strike, a macabre coda to the 20-year US war in Afghanistan, was meant to target a suspected IS operation that US intelligence had "reasonable certainty" aimed to attack the Kabul airport, said US Central Command commander General Kenneth McKenzie.

"The strike was a tragic mistake," McKenzie said as quoted by news agency AFP. US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin apologized to the relatives of those killed in a statement. "I offer my deepest condolences to surviving family members of those who were killed. We apologize, and we will endeavour to learn from this horrible mistake," he said. McKenzie said the government was studying on how payments for damages could be made to the families of those killed.

The general said that on August 29 US forces had tracked a white Toyota for eight hours after seeing it at a site in Kabul that intelligence had identified as a location from which Islamic State operatives were believed to be preparing attacks on the Kabul airport.

Intelligence reports had led US forces to watch for a white Toyota Corolla that the group was allegedly using, he said. "We selected this car based on its movement at a known target area of interest to us. Clearly, our intelligence was wrong on this particular white Toyota," he said.

The drone strike killed 10 people, including seven children, according to McKenzie, none of who ultimately were linked to IS. McKenzie defended the US operation as in "self-defence strike" amid concerns about an attack on the airport in the last days of the chaotic evacuation.

On August 26 an Islamic State-Khorasan suicide bomber had killed scores at the airport, including 13 US service members. Huge crowds were there clamouring to get inside and onboard one of the final evacuation flights out of the country. "There were over 60 clear threat vectors that we were dealing with at this time," McKenzie said.

US officials believed that the car had been loaded with explosives. The New York Times reported that it was filled with canisters of water. McKenzie said that no civilians had been spotted in the area at the time the strike was authorized.

"On behalf of the men and women of the Department of Defense, I offer my deepest condolences to surviving family members of those who were killed, including Ahmadi, and to the staff of Nutrition and Education International, Ahmadi's employer," Austin said.

 

(With Agency Inputs)

Posted By: Talibuddin Khan