Afghan drone strike: No US troops will be punished for civilian deaths, Pentagon cites

Military officials had said previously that the attack on August 29 was not the result of criminal negligence.

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New Delhi: Pentagon on Monday (local time) said that it will not punish any troops over an errant drone strike in Kabul that killed 10 civilians on August 29.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has accepted recommendations that no US military personnel be disciplined for an errant drone strike in Kabul that killed 10 civilians, including an Afghan employee of an American aid organization and seven children, said the Pentagon, reported The Washington Post.

Military officials had said previously that the attack on August 29 was not the result of criminal negligence.

In November, the Air Force inspector general who led an independent investigation of the incident said that while the strike did not violate laws of war, the evidence suggested that mistakes were made as a result of what he called confirmation bias on the part of the analysts and commanders involved, reported The Washington Post.

That review did not recommend any disciplinary action either, despite Pentagon leaders’ admission that the strike was a “tragic mistake.”

A spokesman for US Central Command, which oversaw the operation, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The botched drone strike was carried out just days after a suicide bomber struck outside Hamid Karzai International Airport, killing 13 US service members and at least 170 Afghans, while coalition forces raced to evacuate people.

The military officials who approved the strike — they have not been identified publicly — believed they were targeting an operative of Islamic State-Khorasan, the terrorist group’s arm in Afghanistan and Pakistan. But as evidence later showed, the suspected explosives they believed to be inside a white Toyota Corolla proved to be water tanks for the aid worker’s family.

Top US military leaders initially defended the operation as a “righteous strike.” But as more details emerged revealing the extent of the error, the Pentagon promised to make “condolence payments” to the victims’ family, reported The Washington Post.

Those payments have not yet been issued, though Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told reporters during a briefing said that while “we want to effect this as soon as possible,” officials want to make sure that the money is paid “in the safest and responsible way so that we know it’s getting to the right people and only the right people.”

Kirby also said that the Pentagon is still trying to obtain “the identifying information that we need to move family members out of Afghanistan as expeditiously as we can.”

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