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Pentagon Review Recommends No Disciplinary Action over Drone Strike that Killed 10 in Kabul

The Pentagon logo in the briefing room at the Pentagon in Arlington, Va., January 8, 2020 (Al Drago/Reuters)

A Pentagon review concluded that a U.S. drone strike that killed ten civilians in the last days of the withdrawal from Afghanistan was not caused by misconduct or negligence, the Associated Press reported on Wednesday.

The review by Air Force Lt. Gen. Sami Said concluded that the strike occurred in spite of protocols meant to prevent civilian casualties, a senior defense official told the AP. Said found that the strike came while U.S. troops received multiple reports of threats, days after an ISIS suicide bomber killed 13 American service members and almost 200 Afghans at the Kabul airport.

Said did not recommend disciplinary action against troops involved in the strike.

The strike killed an Afghan who worked for a California-based aid company and members of his family, including children. Pentagon officials initially announced that the strike had eliminated a potential car bomb operated by ISIS militants.

Senator Rand Paul (R., Ky.) grilled Secretary of State Antony Blinken over the strike during a Senate hearing in September. Blinken said at the time that the Biden administration was “reviewing” the strike, following reports that innocent civilians were killed.

“So you don’t know if it was an aid worker or an ISIS-K operative? . . . You don’t know or you won’t tell us?” Paul asked.

“I don’t know because we’re reviewing it,” Blinken responded.

“See, you’d think you’d kind of know before you off somebody with a predator drone whether he’s an aid worker or an ISIS-K” member, Paul said. “This isn’t just you. . . . The Obama administration droned hundreds and hundreds of people, and the thing is, there is blowback to that.”

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Zachary Evans is a news writer for National Review Online. He is also a violist, and has served in the Israeli Defense Forces.

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