The Pentagon has made specific condolence payments to the families of ten Afghan civilians killed in a botched US drone assault in August, just days before American soldiers departed from the country.
The US Defense Department stated that it made a promise that included paying ‘ex-gratia condolence payments’ as well as working with the US State Department to support family members who wanted to relocate to the US.
Colin Kahl, the US Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, met virtually on Thursday with Steven Kwon, the founder and president of Nutrition & Education International, the aid organisation that employed Zemari Ahmadi, who was killed in the August 29 drone attack, according to Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby.
Ahmadi and others killed in the operation were innocent victims who bore no culpability and were not linked with the Islamic State of Khorasan (ISIS-K) or posed a threat to US forces, according to Kirby.I n Kabul, a drone strike killed up to ten civilians, including seven children.
The Pentagon had previously stated that the strike on August 29 targeted an Islamic State suicide bomber who posed an urgent threat to US-led soldiers at the airport as they concluded the final steps of their departure from Afghanistan.
However, rumours quickly surfaced that the drone hit in a neighbourhood west of Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport had killed civilians, including children. According to a video from the site, the wreckage of an automobile was strewn throughout the courtyard of a building. The Pentagon later stated that the strike was a ‘tragic error.’
The operation came three days after an Islamic State suicide bomber killed 13 US servicemen and scores of Afghan civilians who had gathered outside the airport gates, anxious for tickets on evacuation flights after US-trained Afghan forces withdrew and the Taliban took over the capital in mid-August.
The killing of civilians has also cast doubt on the future of US counter-terrorism operations in Afghanistan.