Pentagon: Air Force General to Review U.S. Drone Strike that Killed 10 Afghan Civilians

Afghan residents and family members of the victims gather next to a damaged vehicle inside a house, after a US drone strike which they say went wrong in Kabul
AFP

The Pentagon on Monday said Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has asked the Air Force secretary to appoint a three-star Air Force general or above to examine the U.S. drone strike on August 29 that killed 10 Afghan civilians, including seven children.

Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby said that review would need to be completed within 45 days of the investigating officer’s appointment.

The review would examine a recent investigation by Central Command over what happened, and recommend accountability measures.

That investigation found that the drone strike killed an Afghan aid worker, and as many as nine members of his family, including seven children.

The U.S. military conducted the strike three days after an ISIS-Khorasan suicide bomber killed 13 American service members, and wounded over a dozen more.

In the immediate aftermath of the drone strike — meant to take out another ISIS threat, Centcom touted it as a success, despite the possibility of civilian casualties.

Centcom spokesman Navy Capt. Bill Urban released a statement on the morning of August 29, just a few hours after the strike:

U.S. military forces conducted a self-defense unmanned over-the-horizon airstrike today on a vehicle in Kabul, eliminating an imminent ISIS-K threat to Hamad Karzai International airport. We are confident we successfully hit the target. Significant secondary explosions from the vehicle indicated the presence of a substantial amount of explosive material. We are assessing the possibilities of civilian casualties, though we have no indications at this time. We remain vigilant for potential future threats.

And Centcom Commander Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie said Friday that he initiated an investigation into civilian casualties “within 24 hours of the strike” on August 29.

However, as late as September 1, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley had called the strike “righteous.”

“We believe that the procedures at this point — I don’t want to influence the outcome of an investigation — but at this point, we think that the procedures were correctly followed and it was a righteous strike,” he said.

House Intelligence Committee Ranking Member Devin Nunes told SiriusXM’s Breitbart News Saturday that subpoenas are needed to get to the bottom of what happened.

“We’re going to need subpoenas to get to the bottom of this,” Nunes told host Breitbart News Washington Political Editor Matthew Boyle.

“This clearly was the administration wanting to pretend to be tough … It’s going to take a major investigation by Congress and senators that are on the Armed Services Committee and the intelligence committee to get to the bottom of this,” he said.

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