Defense

Declassified videos show US drone strike that killed 10 Afghan civilians

Afghans inspect damage of Ahmadi family house after the August U.S. drone strike in Kabul
Associated Press/Khwaja Tawfiq Sediqi

U.S. Central Command (Centcom) released declassified footage on Wednesday showing the moments before, during and after the Kabul drone strike conducted by the United States in late August that killed 10 Afghan civilians.

The footage, roughly 25 minutes of video, was first published by The New York Times following a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed against Centcom. 

The newspaper said that the footage had been misinterpreted by officials who initiated the Aug. 29 drone strike, noting that the images are times difficult to make out. 

One color video provided by Centcom, which showed slightly better details than a second black and white one, showed children outside and a person opening a white car’s right door. Footage also showed water being poured on the fire after drone strike.

The black and white video, which appeared to be less focused, shows the white car that longtime aide worker Zemerai Ahmadi, whom U.S. officials incorrectly believed was an operative of ISIS-K who had explosives, drove moving through a few streets and making its way toward a courtyard. The car can be seen backing in as the footage shows several minutes of people milling around the area’s courtyard.

The video later shows the explosion that resulted from the strike. 

“I can confirm that the videos obtained by the New York Times via litigation related to the Freedom of Information Act are, in fact, videos of the strike in Kabul on August 29, 2021,” Capt. Bill Urban, the spokesman for Centcom, said in a statement.

While the strike was intended for what was believed to be an imminent threat to our troops at Hamad Karzai International Airport, none of the family members killed are now believed to have been connected to ISIS-K or threats to our troops. We deeply regret the loss of life that resulted from this strike.”

The drone strike came several days after a suicide attack near the Kabul airport as the U.S. was wrapping up its withdrawal from Afghanistan.

“This video footage is painful confirmation of the devastation the United States caused when it killed 10 deeply beloved people, including Zemari, our loyal and caring employee of 15 years, and seven children,” Steven Kwon, founder and president of Nutrition and Education International (NEI), which Ahmadi once worked for, said in a statement. 

“Zemari’s surviving family members and my NEI employees continue to suffer and are in grave danger as a result of our government’s shocking actions. We have been beseeching the U.S. government to evacuate these family members and NEI employees for months because their security situation is so dire. The United States needs to evacuate them now,” he added.

The Pentagon announced last month that no military personnel involved in the drone strike would face punishment after admitting in September that it had been a “tragic mistake.”

Tags afghan war afghan withdrawal Afghanistan August 2021 Kabul drone strike Central Command Drone strike Kabul airport attack War in Afghanistan

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