Video Released After NYT Lawsuit Shows Drone Killing Of 10 Civilians in Afghanistan

Video Released After NYT Lawsuit Shows Drone Killing Of 10 Civilians in Afghanistan

drone Afghanistan

Image from video, Department of Defense

The Pentagon has declassified and publicly released video footage of a U.S. drone strike that killed 10 civilians in Afghanistan after the New York Times posted imagery of the attack to its website.

The drone killed 10 civilians during the Fall of Kabul, including seven children in the final hours of the chaotic U.S. withdrawal that ended the 20-year war in Afghanistan.

The New York Times obtained and released the footage through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit filed against U.S. Central Command (Centcom), one of 11 combatant units of the U.S. Department of Defense.

The video includes about 25 minutes of footage from what the Times reported was two MQ-9 Reaper drones, and it marks the first public release of video footage of the Aug. 29, 2021 strike, which the Pentagon initially defended but later called a tragic mistake.

The footage shows the scene of the strike prior to, during, and after a missile struck a civilian car in a courtyard on a residential street. Indistinct images show people moving in or near the attack zone. Footage also shows water being poured on the fire after the drone strike.

In the days after the Fall of Kabul, mass civilian evacuations took place at Hamid Karzai International Airport. During these evacuations, the airport was attacked by a suicide bomber, killing at least 183 people. The U.S. anticipated that more attacks from ISIS were imminent. U.S. Central Command acknowledged its error in the Aug. 29 drone strike and said that the man driving the car originally thought to be a suicide bomber had nothing to do with the ISIS-K group.

The man was Zemari Ahmadi, who worked for Nutrition and Education International, a U.S.-based aid organization.

“I can confirm that the videos obtained by the New York Times via litigation related to the Freedom of Information Act are, in fact, videos of the strike in Kabul on Aug. 29, 2021,” said Capt. Bill Urban, the spokesman for Centcom.

“While the strike was intended for what was believed to be an imminent threat to our troops at Hamad Karzai International Airport, none of the family members killed are now believed to have been connected to ISIS-K or threats to our troops. We deeply regret the loss of life that resulted from this strike,” he added.

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.

Drones are supposed to be precise, to target only terrorists and threats, and to avoid killing innocent civilians. However, a deep investigation by the New York Times Magazine finds that U.S. airstrikes have killed thousands of civilians, including small children in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan.

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