No US troops to be punished over deadly Kabul drone strike

Washington (AFP) – The Pentagon said Monday that no US troops or officials would face disciplinary action for a drone strike in Kabul in August that killed 10 Afghan civilians, including seven children.


Spokesman John Kirby said Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin had received a high-level review of the strike which made no recommendation of accountability.

"He approved their recommendations," Kirby said. "The secretary is not... calling for additional accountability measures."

The August 29 drone strike took place in the final days of the US-led evacuation of Kabul after the Taliban seized control of the country.

US officials said they had intelligence of a possible Islamic State attack on the evacuation operations at Kabul airport, and launched a missile from a drone at a target that, in reality, was a family that included an Afghan man who worked for a US aid group.

In early November an initial report carried out by the US Air Force inspector general, Lieutenant General Sami Said, called the strike tragic but "an honest mistake."

The review by Central Command head General Kenneth McKenzie Jr. and Special Operations Command chief General Richard Clarke made use of Said's report and detailed recommendations on procedures for future drone strikes.

But it made no call for anyone to be punished for the mistake.

"What we saw here was a breakdown in process, in execution and procedural events, not the result of negligence, not the result of misconduct, not the result of poor leadership," said Kirby.

If Austin "believed . . . that accountability was warranted, he would certainly support those kinds of efforts," Kirby added.