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Facing scrutiny from a Senate panel Tuesday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken admitted that he doesn't know if the U.S. mistakenly targeted an aid worker in a drone strike in Kabul that reportedly killed 10 Afghan civilians.

Driving the news: The U.S. is still investigating the strike, and maintains it "was taken to prevent an imminent threat to the airport," Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby said in a statement Tuesday. "We do work very hard to avoid civilian casualties, and we would be deeply saddened by any loss of innocent life.”

  • The New York Times reported the drone had mistakenly hit a worker for the U.S. aid group Zemari Ahmadi.

What they're saying: "Was he an aid worker or an ISIS-K operative?" Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) asked Blinken at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing Tuesday about the chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan.

  • "I don't know," Blinken said, adding that the strike is still under review.
  • "You'd think you'd kind of know before you off somebody with a predator drone, whether he's an aid worker or he's an ISIS-K operative," Paul responded, suggesting that past administrations have also killed civilians in airstrikes, resulting in "blowback" that can engender more extremists.

Go deeper: Top Democrat threatens to subpoena Biden officials as Blinken testifies on Afghanistan

Go deeper

Game: Could you manage as a food delivery courier?

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

The pandemic created a surge in demand for food delivery services, with such speed that regulations protecting workers haven't kept up — making those jobs much more dangerous, according to a report.

Play the Axios game to experience delivery life (click on the link in the image below).

1 hour ago - World

Pentagon: 8,500 troops on high alert for possible deployment to eastern Europe

Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has placed 8,500 U.S. troops on "heightened preparedness to deploy" to eastern Europe in case NATO activates its rapid-response force over tensions with Russia, the Pentagon announced Monday.

Why it matters: No decisions have been made to actually deploy U.S. forces, but the heightened alert level will allow the military to rapidly shore up NATO's eastern flank in the event that Russia invades Ukraine. The Pentagon warned that Russia has shown "no signs of de-escalating," and continues to amass troops on Ukraine's borders.

Updated 2 hours ago - Economy & Business

S&P 500 on track for worst-ever start to year

Data: FactSet; Chart: Axios Visuals

Stocks suffered their steepest drop of the year early Monday, putting the S&P 500 on course for its worst-ever start to a year.

Driving the news: The benchmark S&P 500 dropped for its fifth straight day, with losses nearing 3% in early trading, momentarily putting it on track to fall into a "correction." Some of the steepest losses were recovered in early afternoon trading.