Updated Aug 30, 2021 - World

Pentagon investigating reports of 10 civilians killed in U.S. drone strike

A car destroyed after an attack
Taliban fighters investigate a damaged car after multiple rockets were fired in Kabul on Aug. 30. Photo: Wakil Kohsar/AFP via Getty Images

The U.S. drone strike targeting a vehicle believed to pose an "imminent ISIS-K threat" to Kabul's airport killed 10 Afghan civilians, including seven children, family members and witnesses told the New York Times.

The latest: Asked about the reports of civilian casualties, Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said at a briefing on Monday: "We are not in a position to dispute it right now."

  • "We're assessing and we’re investigating. Make no mistake: no military on the face of the earth works harder to avoid civilian casualties than the US military," Kirby said.
  • He added that the U.S. is coordinating with the Taliban — in addition to examining press reports and other methods of investigation — to determine whether civilians were killed.

Catch up quick: The drone strike was the second carried out by the U.S. military in response to a suicide bombing that killed 13 U.S. service members and over 170 Afghan civilians last week.

  • Pentagon officials said the first strike, carried out on Friday, killed two "high-profile targets" involved in the planning of the airport bombing, which the U.S. has attributed to ISIS-K, the terrorist group’s affiliate in Afghanistan.
  • Sunday's drone strike targeted an explosives-laden vehicle also believed to be linked to ISIS-K, according to U.S. Central Command spokesperson Capt. Bill Urban. Urban said the military was investigating reports of possible civilian casualties and would be "deeply saddened by any potential loss of innocent life."

Details: Shortly before the drone strike, Zemari Ahmadi, who worked for the Nutrition and Education International charity in Afghanistan, pulled into his street in Kabul where he lived with his three brothers and their families, witnesses told the Times.

  • A number of children came outside to greet Ahmadi when the strike occurred, per NYT.
  • The missile hit the rear end of the car, destroying it, spraying shrapnel and killing Ahmadi and many of the children surrounding the vehicle.

What they're saying: "At first I thought it was the Taliban," Samia Ahmadi, Ahmadi's daughter who was inside the house when the blast struck, told the Times. "But the Americans themselves did it."

  • “I saw the whole scene,” she added. “There were burnt pieces of flesh everywhere.” Her fiancé Ahmad Naser, a former army officer and contractor with the U.S. military who had applied for a Special Immigrant Visa, was among those killed.
  • Steven Kwon, the president of NEI, said Zemari Ahmadi "was well respected by his colleagues and compassionate towards the poor and needy,” and that he had just recently “prepared and delivered soy-based meals to hungry women and children at local refugee camps in Kabul,” per NYT.

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