United States: The Pentagon closes the case of the murder of 10 civilians in Kabul with a drone without sanctions against the military implicated | International

A neighbor inspects the damage in the courtyard of the Ahmadi family's home on September 13 in Kabul.
A neighbor inspects the damage in the courtyard of the Ahmadi family’s home on September 13 in Kabul.Bernat Armangue (AP)

The “tragic mistake” that killed ten civilians, including seven children, during the US withdrawal from Afghanistan will go unpunished, not even purging responsibilities, the Pentagon announced this Monday. A drone attack on a suspected terrorist target days after a terrorist attack killed dozens of people at the Kabul airport – including 13 US soldiers – killed a dozen members of the family of a local worker. from an American NGO. The Pentagon rejected responsibility from the outset, maintaining for weeks that the objective was legitimate to prevent a new coup by the Islamic State (ISIS), the perpetrator of the airport massacre, but in September acknowledged that the operation was a “ tragic mistake ”for which no one will stand up. The Secretary of Defense, Lloyd J. Austin, has accepted the recommendations of two high officials to turn the page.

It was the last drone attack before the US completed the withdrawal of its troops from the Central Asian country, on August 31. Two days earlier, and amid constant alerts from Washington and Kabul about a new terrorist attack, the Pentagon announced that it had neutralized the “imminent threat” posed by a van, supposedly loaded with explosives, in the vicinity of the airport, where the work of Evacuation continued at a frantic pace. It was not such, but the Toyota Corolla of Zemari Ahmadi, logistician of the American NGO Nutrition and Education International. Ahmadi had just arrived from distributing food in camps for displaced people on the outskirts of Kabul; He parked the vehicle in the courtyard of the family home, located in a dense neighborhood in the northwest of the city, on the way to the airport, and the children of the house went inside to play. The impact of the missile destroyed the vehicle, the courtyard and part of the surrounding buildings.

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The drone attack – the latest in a series of actions aimed at punishing ISIS cells in Afghanistan – occurred on Sunday, August 29. It was a preventive attack, according to the official version. But the account of several foreign media present in Kabul, who managed to speak with relatives of the victims, immediately overthrew the official explanation. After a Central Command investigation spurred by the media version, on December 17, almost 20 days after the deadly bombing, the Pentagon recognized the so-called collateral damage, an error especially linked to actions with drones.

A subsequent investigation into the episode did not find punishable actions, according to military legislation, leaving the resolution of the file in the hands of the “high command”. The Secretary of Defense gave the last word on any administrative decision, such as sanctions or demotions, to the two most responsible for the repatriation operation, General Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr., head of the Central Command, and General Richard D. Clarke, Chief of the Special Operations Command. Both officers have found no reason to punish any of the military involved in the action.

During the two decades-long war in Afghanistan, as well as combat against global jihadist groups Al Qaeda and the Islamic State, the US Army has caused countless civilian casualties from drones. Responsibility for mistakes was rarely derived, recalls the diary The New York Times, which has been informed this Monday of the resolution of the Kabul case by “a senior Pentagon official covered by anonymity.” The most notable exception was the sanctions on a dozen military personnel in 2016 for their role in an air attack in October 2015 against a hospital run by the NGO Doctors Without Borders (MSF) in Kunduz (Afghanistan), with 42 fatalities. None of those sanctioned faced criminal charges.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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