Pentagon reverses itself, calls deadly Kabul strike an error

WASHINGTON – The Pentagon has retreated from its defense of a drone strike that killed multiple civilians in Afghanistan last month. It announced Friday that an internal review revealed that only civilians were killed in the attack, not an Islamic State extremist as first believed.

Marine Gen. Frank McKenzie, head of U.S. Central Command, called it a “tragic mistake.”

Gen. Frank McKenzie has just said on camera at the Pentagon briefing that after a thorough review of the findings of investigations into the August 29 drone strike in Kabul "I am now convinced that as many as 10 civilians, including up to seven children were tragically killed in that strike."

"Moreover, we now assess that it is unlikely that the vehicle and those who died or associated with ISIS Khorasan or were a direct threat to US forces," said McKenzie.

"I offer my profound condolences to the family and friends of those who were killed," said McKenzie.

He noted that the drone strike was carried out "in the earnest belief that it would prevent and terminate a threat to our forces and the evacuees at the airport, but it was a mistake. And I offer my sincere apology."

"As a combatant commander. I am fully responsible for this strike in this tragic outcome."

For days after the Aug. 29 strike, Pentagon officials asserted that it had been conducted correctly. News organizations later raised doubts, reporting that the driver of the targeted vehicle was a longtime employee at an American humanitarian organization and citing an absence of evidence to support the Pentagon’s assertion that the vehicle contained explosives.