U.S. military operations killed at least 12 civilians and injured five others last year, with most of the deaths occurring during a botched drone strike in Afghanistan, according to a recently released Pentagon report.
The Pentagon acknowledged that 10 civilians, including aid worker Zemari Ahmadi and seven children, were killed Aug. 29, 2021, in a U.S. drone strike just before American troops withdrew from Afghanistan.
After initially saying the mission was necessary to prevent an Islamic State attack on U.S. troops, Defense Department officials acknowledged it had been a “tragic mistake.”
A high-level investigation into the Aug. 29 deaths found questionable issues with how the drone strike was conducted but stopped short of calling for any punishment, such as reprimands or demotions.
“What we saw here was a breakdown in process, and execution in procedural events, not the result of negligence, not the result of misconduct [and] not the result of poor leadership,” former Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told reporters at the time.
The congressionally mandated report shows that the U.S. military has built a “strong foundation of compliance with the of war” and is committed to limiting harm to civilians, Pentagon officials said.
“U.S. forces routinely conduct operations under policy standards that are more protective of civilians than is required by the law,” defense officials said. “We are committed to continuing to improve our approach to civilian harm mitigation and response.”
The Pentagon report also noted that civilians were killed on Jan 8, 2021, in Herat, Afghanistan, and on Aug. 11, 2021, in Kandahar during U.S. military operations, while two civilians were injured in a Jan. 18, 2021, airstrike in Kandahar.
The U.S. also conducts military operations in Africa to disrupt violent extremist organizations such as al-Shabaab, which is affiliated with al-Qaeda. The Pentagon report said three civilians were injured Jan. 1, 2021, during an airstrike in the vicinity of Qunyo Barrow, Somalia.