The Pentagon does not plan to put investigators on the ground to assess whether “an imminent ISIS-K threat” targeted during a U.S. drone strike in Afghanistan actually had ties to the terrorist organization, the Defense Department’s top spokesman said Monday.
“I don’t foresee an option at this point ... that would put investigators on the ground in Kabul to complete their assessment,” press secretary John KirbyJohn KirbyPentagon offers to pay families of those killed in Afghan drone strike China, US military officials held talks to discuss relations Erdoğan says Turkey plans to buy another Russian defense system MORE told reporters at the Pentagon.
U.S. Central Command “is still assessing the results of that strike, and they have a variety of means to do that, and I’m just not going to get ahead of where they are in terms of the process,” he added.
Reports emerged late last week casting some doubt on whether the Aug. 29 drone strike in Kabul correctly targeted a threat to U.S. forces evacuating people at the city's airport.
Centcom said at the time that it was “eliminating an imminent ISIS-K threat to Hamad Karzai International airport” by striking a vehicle suspected to be carrying explosives.
But The New York Times reported that the U.S. military targeted the driver of the vehicle based on dubious claims, including because they believed he may have had ties to ISIS and that explosives had been put in his vehicle.
The Times also reported that the exact identity of the driver, which both the Times and The Washington Post identified as Zemari Ahmadi, was not known to the military at the time.
The driver did not appear to have ties to the terrorist organization and had worked at an aid group, Nutrition and Education International, for years, according to the Times.
The Pentagon so far has not confirmed the name of the individual targeted in the drone strike.
Asked about the reports from the Times and the Post on Monday, Kirby would not offer further comment, as “the assessment by U.S. Central Command is ongoing, and I’m not going to get ahead of that.”
“The strike was taken to prevent an imminent attack on the airport,” he added.
Ten civilians, including Ahmadi, have been reported to have died in the attack, although the Pentagon has said only three people were killed.