As many as 10 civilians were killed in a U.S. airstrike in Kabul, Afghanistan, last month, the U.S. military said Friday.
Additionally, the strike does not appear to have killed anybody with or linked to the terrorist group ISIS-K, U.S. Gen. Frank McKenzie, commander of the U.S. Central Command, told reporters during a press conference.
The revelations were informed by an investigation directed by McKenzie after the Aug. 29 strike, which was carried out in retaliation for a suicide bombing at the airport in Kabul that killed 13 U.S. service members.
U.S. military leaders had repeatedly portrayed the strike as a successful attack, even as family members of the deceased insisted there was no connection between them and the ISIS offshoot.
“At this point, we think that the procedures were correctly followed and it was a righteous strike,” Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in Washington on Sept. 1.
That stance was shifted on Friday, when McKenzie revealed the results of the probe, which found 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 were associated with ISIS-K or were a direct threat to U.S. forces,” he added. “I offer my profound condolences to the family and friends of those who were killed. This strike was taken in the earnest belief that it would prevent an imminent threat to our forces and the evacuees at the airport. But it was a mistake, and I offer my sincere apology. As the combatant commander, I am fully responsible for the strike and this tragic outcome.”
The stunning admission drew criticism from members of Congress, including Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), who highlighted how President Joe Biden was headed to Delaware for a weekend vacation as McKenzie delivered his remarks.
“Biden’s Pentagon admits that they killed 10 innocent people in Kabul, not the targeted ISIS-K terrorists. Meanwhile, Biden is taking a vacation on the beach, shirking off responsibility, holding no one accountable. Biden is a disgrace,” Biggs wrote on Twitter.
“It’s an unbelievable tragedy that 10 civilians including an aid worker & 7 children were killed by a U.S. drone strike in Afghanistan. My heart is with the families. We need more transparency and oversight to ensure this does not happen again,” Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) added.
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.