The Pentagon and Biden administration are still receiving criticism after it was revealed the drone strike carried out in Afghanistan in retaliation for the suicide bombing that killed 13 American service members did not kill a single ISIS-K terrorist. Reports showed that the strikes actually killed 10 Afghan civilians, including seven children.
The Associated Press reported:
A survivor of an errant U.S. drone strike that killed 10 members of his family demanded Saturday that those responsible be punished and said Washington's apology was not enough.
Gen. Kenneth McKenzie on Friday held a press conference in which he admitted that “as many as ten civilians including up to seven children” were killed in the August 29 drone strike and that it was “unlikely that the vehicle & those that died were associated with ISIS-K or a direct threat to U.S. forces.”
#BREAKING: CENTCOM Gen. McKenzie says the U.S. is "now convinced that as many as ten civilians including up to seven children" were killed in a Aug. 29 drone strike & it was "unlikely that the vehicle & those that died were associated w/ISIS-K or a direct threat to U.S. forces." pic.twitter.com/bG9JkTzTAt
— Curtis Houck (@CurtisHouck) September 17, 2021
The family is also demanding financial compensation and relocation to the United States or a different country, according to Emal Ahmadi, who also lost a 3-year-old daughter named Malika in the assault.
From the AP:
On that day, a U.S. hellfire missile struck the car that Ahmadi's brother Zemerai had just pulled into the driveway of the Ahmadi family compound as children ran to greet him. In all, 10 members of the family, including seven children, were killed in the strike.
Initially, the military defended the strike, claiming it targeted a “facilitator” working with ISIS-K and hampered the terrorist group's ability to carry out attacks. However, various news outlets discovered the driver of the targeted vehicle was an employee at a U.S. humanitarian organization.
McKenzie apologized for the “tragic mistake” and explained the U.S. is considering providing reparation payments to the family of those killed in the attack. Ahmadi, who heard about the apology from friends in the U.S., said: “That is not enough for us to say sorry.” He said that the U.S. “should find the person who did this.”
News outlets realized the Pentagon's original story might not be true, when “accounts from the family, documents from colleagues” and “the scene at the family home” where Zemarai's car was hit by the hellfire missile contradicted the military's account of the incident. Ahmadi was “the family's breadwinner and had looked after his three brothers, including Emal, and their children,” according to the AP.
Despite the Pentagon's belief that Ahmadi was a terrorist, Ahmadi couldn't believe the U.S. could have made such a dire mistake. “The U.S.A. can see from everywhere,” he said. He continued:
“They can see that there were innocent children near the car and in the car. Whoever did this should be punished.”
The fallout from the drone strike will continue to plague the Biden administration. Earlier this week, Secretary of State Antony Blinken was grilled by Congress about the strike, as well as the overall withdrawal effort. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin is expected to testify in front of the House and Senate Armed Forces committees later this month — and this incident will surely come up. This is just yet another situation demonstrating that the Afghanistan issue isn't going away anytime soon.