In a U-turn, the United States military admitted on Friday that a drone strike that killed multiple civilians in Afghanistan last month was an error.
“The strike was a tragic mistake,” Marine Gen. Frank McKenzie, head of US Central Command, told a Pentagon news conference.
The Pentagon said an internal review revealed that only civilians were killed in the attack, not a self-proclaimed Islamic State group extremist as first believed.
For days after the Aug. 29 strike, Pentagon officials asserted that it had been conducted correctly, despite numerous civilians being killed, including children.
McKenzie told reporters the vehicle was struck “in the earnest belief” that it posed an imminent threat.
“I am now convinced that as many as 10 civilians, including up to seven children, were tragically killed in that strike,” McKenzie said.
“Moreover, we now assess that it is unlikely that the vehicle and those who died were associated with ISIS-K, or a direct threat to US forces,” he added, referring to the Islamic State group’s Afghanistan affiliate.
McKenzie apologised for the mistake and said the United States is considering making reparation payments to the family of the victims.
Euronews interviewed last week Emal Ahmadi who said he lost ten family members in the strike, including his three-year-old daughter.
News organisations later raised doubts about that version of events, reporting that the driver of the targeted vehicle was a longtime employee at an American humanitarian organisation and citing an absence of evidence to support the Pentagon’s assertion that the vehicle contained explosives.