US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has apologized for the erroneous US drone strike on Kabul, which killed ten Afghans, including seven children. The head of the US Central Command, Kenneth Mackenzie, claimed responsibility for the incident, explaining that the strike was struck “out of the sincere confidence that it would remove the impending threat” to the crowd at Kabul airport. Earlier, Enamel Ahmadi, the head of a family that lost ten people, told RT about the circumstances of the tragedy and stressed that the Americans had been in Afghanistan for almost 20 years, pursuing their own goals, and “humiliated his country.” Political analysts call the confessions of the high-ranking US military as forced. According to experts, in this way Washington is only trying to save face and calm the world community.
An investigation by US Central Command found that ten civilians, including seven children, were killed in a US drone strike on Kabul on August 29. This was announced by Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, who called the incident “a terrible mistake” from which the military “will try to learn lessons.”
“On behalf of the employees and employees of the Department of Defense, I offer my deepest condolences to the relatives of the victims, including Mr. Ahmadi, and to the staff of Nutrition and Education International, where he worked,” Austin said in a statement posted on the department’s official website.
Zamari Ahmadi was the owner of the vehicle that was hit. The head of the Pentagon also said that he ordered a thorough analysis of the investigation into the incident, and assured that the US army is making every effort to avoid innocent victims.
“There is no armed force that is more careful than ours to try to avoid civilian casualties. When we have reason to believe that we have killed innocent people, we conduct an investigation and, if confirmed, we admit it. But we must also, with the same diligence, prevent such situations from happening again – regardless of the circumstances, the intelligence and the operational load factors that accompany our work, ”the statement said.
“It was the right blow”
Recall that a blow to one of the courtyards in Kabul, which killed ten people, was inflicted on August 29 – at the final stage of the withdrawal of the American military from Afghanistan. The hasty evacuation of the US contingent provoked the activation of the radical Taliban * movement, which launched an offensive against the positions of government forces.
In just a few weeks, the Taliban captured most of the important settlements and administrative centers, after which on August 15 they entered Kabul without a fight and announced the establishment of control over the country.
- US military at Kabul International Airport
- © Lance Corporal. Nicholas Guevara / United States Marine Corps via AP
After that, the United States and a number of other countries began to urgently take out their citizens, as well as some local residents who collaborated with the West. By this time, it was only possible to leave Afghanistan by air, since all borders were under the control of the Taliban, and the American-occupied Kabul airport continued to function. This led to the fact that thousands of people gathered in and around the air harbor itself.
On August 26, several terrorist attacks took place near the airport, killing more than 170 people, including 13 American soldiers. Responsibility for the attack was claimed by the Afghan branch of the Islamic State ** – Vilayat Khorasan.
In turn, after the August 29 strike, the US military reported that they had destroyed a car in which alleged suicide bombers were planning a new attack at the Kabul airport. The blow was delivered by a rocket launched from an MQ9-Reaper drone. The spokesman for US Central Command, Captain Bill Urban, then announced that the attack was carried out in “self-defense”.
Almost immediately after the strike, information about the deaths of civilians, including children, appeared in a number of media outlets, citing eyewitnesses to the events. Despite this, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the US Armed Forces, General Mark Milli, on September 1, during a special briefing at the Pentagon dedicated to the end of the war in Afghanistan, made an excuse for the military’s actions.
Milli said that after the missile hit the car, secondary explosions were recorded, indicating that there were explosives in the car. In addition, according to the American military leader, the command had information that at least one of the killed was allegedly the planner of Vilayat Khorasan.
“Were there any more killed? Were. We do not know who they are. We will try to figure it out. But we believe that all the procedures … were followed, and it was the right blow, ”Milli said then.
- General Mark Millie, Chairman of the United States Joint Chiefs of Staff
- © Evelyn Hockstein
It is worth adding that Pentagon spokesman John Kirby at subsequent briefings avoided answering the question of whether the US military is sure that after a missile hit a car, secondary explosions were recorded on the spot.
“It is unlikely that the Pentagon will make drastic changes in its policy”
A few hours before the Pentagon chief’s announcement, the head of Central Command, Kenneth Mackenzie, also admitted the fallacy of the strike. He also apologized and claimed responsibility for the incident as the commander of the forces conducting the operation.
“At the moment, it does not seem likely that this vehicle and the victims were related to Vilayat Khorasan or posed an immediate threat to US forces. I offer my deepest condolences to the relatives and friends of the victims. The strike was launched on the basis of a sincere confidence that it will eliminate the impending threat to our forces and evacuees at the airport, ”the military leader said.
- Plan for the movement of a car with suspected terrorists in Kabul on August 29. Image of US Central Command
- © United States Central Command
He explained that the operation was carried out on the basis of intelligence data, indicating that the terrorists were preparing a new attack.
“In the 36 hours before the strike, our leaders at the airport and strike team received over 60 different pieces of intelligence regarding the impending threats. Among these data were those that were consistent and those that were at variance with the events observed with our UAVs that were in the sky over Kabul that day, ”said Mackenzie.
At the same time, neither Austin nor Mackenzie said whether there would be any consequences for the American military involved in the incident. Fox News journalist Lucas Tomlinson, covering the Pentagon, citing defense sources, said that no disciplinary action was expected following the “mistaken” strike.
RT, as part of the Unheard Voices project dedicated to the 20th anniversary of the US war in Afghanistan, spoke with two residents of Kabul who lost their relatives as a result of this strike. According to Emal Ahmadi and Jamshid Yusufi, the Americans humiliated their country and pursued only their own goals.
According to Yuri Rogulev, director of the Franklin Roosevelt Foundation for the Study of the United States at Moscow State University, the Pentagon recognized the fallacy of the strike, which resulted in casualties among Afghan civilians, only after their actions were widely publicized in the media.
“This is a forced confession, because the Pentagon was exposed by many world media outlets, which began to conduct their own investigation into this incident, in particular, they interviewed people and identified all the victims,” the interlocutor of RT said.
He noted that the Biden administration was supposed to respond to the terrorist attack that killed the American military, but by that time the United States had “lost all the agents” that could provide reliable information about whether the target of the strike was really terrorists.
“For the United States, it is more important to strike than to have a 100% target. It is unlikely that after this the Pentagon will make drastic changes in its policy, because such incidents have occurred before. In general, the US prefers to strike immediately, regardless of the possible consequences, including the death of civilians, ”the analyst said.
Andrey Sidorov, head of the Department of International Organizations and World Political Processes at the Faculty of World Politics at Moscow State University, shares a similar point of view.
“In this case, the current White House administration, recognizing that it struck a blow to Kabul, which killed seven children, is resorting to a diplomatic maneuver to save face and calm the world community. At the same time, one should not expect that the perpetrators will be found in Washington, “the political scientist explained in a conversation with RT.
He also recalled that US airstrikes were almost always accompanied by the death of civilians.
“The words that the American army cares more than anyone about the safety of the civilian population does not mean anything, because it was the United States that unleashed a huge number of conflicts in which it is not known how many civilians died, because they do not keep records of non-combat losses,” Sidorov concluded. …
* “Taliban” – the organization was recognized as terrorist by the decision of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation of February 14, 2003.
** “Islamic State” (IS, ISIS) – the organization was recognized as terrorist by the decision of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation of December 29, 2014.