Newly Declassified Video Shows Botched U.S. Drone Strike That Killed 10 Afghan Civilians

The U.S. military mistakenly killed 10 Afghan civilians — including seven children — in an Aug. 29 drone strike gone wrong. The New York Times on Wednesday published newly declassified footage of the strike, which depicts crosshairs on a car outside a family home in Kabul as the U.S. worked to withdraw troops from the region.

The crosshairs hover over the vehicle as figures move around it. The frame then erupts in billowing white light before revealing a raging fire where the car used to be. The full video can be viewed here.

The strike was carried out as the military sought to take out ISIS-K, the extremist group that claimed responsibility for an Aug. 26 attack that killed 13 U.S. service members and dozens of Afghans outside the Kabul airport. President Biden vowed to take action against those responsible. “We will not forgive. We will not forget,” the president said. “We will hunt you down and make you pay.”

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The military said the strike that killed 10 civilians three days later was carried out under the assumption that they were tracking an ISIS-K terrorist who planned on bombing the airport. A Times video investigation found that the the man the military thought was a terrorist was actually an aid worker, and that what the military thought were explosives loaded into the back of his car were likely bottles of water.

The military later acknowledged the attack was a mistake. “The strike was a tragic mistake and that Mr. Zemari Ahmadi and others who were killed were innocent victims who bore no blame and were not affiliated with ISIS-K or threats to U.S. forces,” John Kirby, the Defense Department’s chief spokesman, said in a statement.

The botched strike was a fitting metaphor to close out America’s 20-year war in Afghanistan, which the U.S. government initially touted as a success but in reality was a tragic failure for which no one suffered more than the people of Afghanistan.

The military said in December that none of the personnel involved in the fatal accident would be punished.

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