No US troops will be punished over Kabul drone strike that killed 10 civilians: Pentagon

U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has decided that no US military personnel will be punished over the August drone strike in Kabul that killed 10 civilians, including seven children.

Following a review of the strike, Austin instructed the heads of Central Command and Special Operations Command to make recommendations to improve Defense Department policies and procedures. But their recommendations did not include holding anyone accountable or punishing anyone involved in the strike, Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said on Monday.

“The Secretary reviewed their recommendations. I won’t get into all of them. Some of them are understandably classified, but he approved their recommendations,” Kirby said.

“So I do not anticipate there being issues of personal accountability to be had with respect to the August 29th airstrike.”

The decision means there will be no disciplinary action taken over the strike, which Pentagon officials initially defended before going on to call it a “tragic mistake” as a result of “execution errors.”

About two weeks after the strike General Frank McKenzie, the commander of US Central Command, said the military had tracked the wrong vehicle for hours as it built up what it thought was the evidence of dangerous activity needed to conduct a strike.

On August 26, three days before the botched strike, an ISIS-K suicide bomber carried out a bombing at Abbey Gate, one of the primary entrances to Kabul’s international airport, killing 13 US service members and many more Afghans.

The threat of another attack and the final days of the US military withdrawal from Afghanistan compounded the pressure that led up to the drone strike.

But there was no imminent ISIS-K threat neutralized in the strike. Instead, the military killed Zamarai Ahmadi, an Afghan who worked for Nutrition and Education International, a non-profit focusing on combatting malnutrition, and was in the process of applying for a visa to relocate his family to the United States.

The strike killed nine others as well, including members of Ahmadi’s family.