A U.S. drone strike launched in Afghanistan late last month killed as many as 10 civilians, and not an ISIS-K terrorist as the U.S. military previously reported, the Pentagon acknowledged Friday. General Frank McKenzie, the commander of the U.S. Central Command, called the strike "a tragic mistake" during a news conference Friday afternoon.
An investigation by Central Command determined that the August 29 strike in Kabul, which Joint Chief Chairman General Mark Milley previously described as a "righteous strike," killed an innocent aid worker and as many as nine of his family members, including up to seven children.
"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," McKenzie said. "I offer my profound condolences to the family and friends of those who were killed."
U.S. intelligence reportedly followed the car the aid worker was driving for eight hours because it had been observed at a compound associated with the terrorist group known as ISIS-K. During that time, the movements of the car corresponded to other intelligence about ISIS plans for an attack on the airport, McKenzie said.
The strike was conducted as the man pulled into the driveway of his home, which was located about 3 kilometers from the airport. He was identified by relatives and colleagues as Zemerai Ahmadi.
The drone strike set off a large secondary explosion, which officials originally said was evidence that the car was indeed carrying explosives, but which the investigation determined was most likely set off by a propane tank located in the driveway, McKenzie said.
"I am here today to set the record straight and acknowledge our mistakes," the commander said Friday.