US orders new review of drone strike that killed 10 Afghan civilians
The reviewer will review the chronology of events leading to the tragedy and decide if any disciplinary action is warranted.
United States Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin on Monday ordered a senior-level review of an investigation into a drone strike in Afghanistan on August 29 that had mistakenly killed 10 civilians instead of an Islamic State group fighter, AP reported.
The reviewer will check the chronology of the events leading to the tragedy and if any disciplinary action is warranted.
On August 29, the US had launched an unmanned drone strike on a man who they believed was an Islamic State-Khorasan operative. The terror group had claimed responsibility for the bombing at the Kabul airport on August 28 in which 169 Afghans and 13 US Army personnel were killed.
Soon after the drone strike in Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province, a statement from US Central Command spokesperson Bill Urban confirmed that the target was killed in a car and that there had been were no civilian casualties.
However, discrepancies surfaced in the reports. An investigation by the New York Times questioned the US’ version of events. It raised doubts about explosives being present in the car, the driver’s associated with the Islamic State group and the second explosion after the missile hit the car.
Central Command head Frank Mckenzie on Friday admitted to shooting down the wrong target with a hellfire missile.
Pentagon Spokesperson John Kirby on Monday said the that the US Air Force will study the Central Command’s investigation and “recommend whether anyone involved [from the Air Force] should be held accountable”.
“If there is accountability to be held, the decisions about who and what would be done would be a separate consideration,” Kirby said.
The review of the erroneous drone strike is to be completed within 45 days after the reviewing officer is appointed, Kirby added.
Central Command’s investigation
Mckenzie said that the US forces had observed a white Toyota Corolla car for eight hours on August 29 after seeing it at a place that was believed to be where Islamic State group terrorists were preparing attacks on the Kabul airport. The officials said three men were seen loading the vehicle with “items assessed at the time to be explosives” before leaving the spot.
However, the driver of the car was an employee of a US humanitarian organisation, AP reported. The investigation further revealed that there was no secondary blast due to explosives in the car, as was claimed by the Central Command initially.
“This particular strike certainly was a terrible mistake and we certainly regret that, and I’ve been very clear that we take full responsibility for it,” Mckenzie had said at news conference in Pentagon on Friday.
He added: “Moreover, we now assess that it is unlikely that the vehicle and those who died were associated with ISIS-K or were a direct threat to US forces.”
Even as he expressed condolences to the families and friends of those who were killed, McKenzie had said that the incident should be considered in the context of the Kabul airport attack.
Meanwhile, the survivors of the drone strike on Saturday demanded severe punishment for those involved and said that “Washington’s apology was not enough”, AP reported.
The families of the deceased have sought financial compensation and relocation to the United States or any other country that is deemed safe.