Pentagon offers payment to Afghanistan family's survivors after botched US airstrike

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The Pentagon has offered condolence payments to the surviving family members of the 10 innocent civilians, including seven children, who were accidentally killed in a U.S. airstrike in Afghanistan in late August. 

The Aug. 29 strike was intended to kill ISIS-K-affiliated terrorists in retaliation for a terrorist bombing three days earlier that killed 13 U.S. service members and dozens of Afghans at the Kabul airport amid the chaotic Biden administration withdrawal of U.S. troops from the Asian nation. 

The deaths of the civilians were a “tragic mistake,” Dr. Colin Kahl, undersecretary of defense for policy, said Thursday, according to a Pentagon statement from press secretary John Kirby.

Kahl reiterated that victim Zemari Ahmadi and the others who were killed were innocent victims who “bore no blame and were not affiliated with ISIS-K or threats to U.S. forces,” the statement added. 

The amount of the payment offer was not specified. 

In a virtual meeting with Kahl, Dr. Steven Kwon, founder and president of Nutrition & Education International (NEI), spoke about Ahmadi’s years-long work with the organization during which Ahmadi provided “care and lifesaving assistance” to victims in the war-torn country. 

Afghans inspect damage of Ahmadi family house after U.S. drone strike in Kabul, Afghanistan, Aug. 29, 2021.
(Associated Press)

The Defense Department admitted last month Ahmadi had no connection to ISIS-K after previously saying the opposite. 

The Biden administration admitted the mistake only after media reports questioned if those killed were actually terrorist-affiliated, as military officials had initially claimed. 

Kwon said NEI has pledged to “honor the memory of Mr. Ahmadi and his family members and others who were killed in the strike.”

“Nothing can bring Zemari or these other precious people back, but we appreciate the opportunity to discuss these devastating losses in detail with senior Defense Department officials,” Kwon said in a statement, according to The Wall Street Journal. “We hope they will act urgently to get surviving family members and impacted NEI employees to safety and to help them to rebuild their lives.”

The strike also called into question the U.S. ability to conduct targeted strikes without the added use of military intelligence capabilities on the ground, the Journal reported. 

“This is a horrible tragedy of war and it’s heart-wrenching and we are committed to being fully transparent about this incident,” Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley said in September after previously calling the operation a “righteous strike.” 

The Pentagon is also working to help the surviving family members relocate to the U.S. 

Fox News’ Lucas Y. Tomlinson contributed to this report.

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