Videos Of Drone Strike That Killed 10 Afghan Civilians Released

Videos of US attack that killed 10 civilians in Kabul released 0:57

(CNN) — The US military on Wednesday released videos of the failed Aug. 29 drone strike in Kabul that killed 10 Afghan civilians, including seven children.

Newly released videos show the view from above of Kabul as the military tracked a white Toyota Corolla through the city, believing it to be an ISIS-K car loaded with explosives, and prepared to attack it in a pre-emptive strike.


The Pentagon initially defended the attack, claiming it had killed an ISIS-K operative planning an imminent attack on US forces during the final days of the evacuation and withdrawal from Afghanistan. Just three days earlier, an ISIS-K suicide bomber had killed 13 US service members and dozens of Afghans at Abbey Gate, the key point of entry to the airport.

With continued threats of another attack, the US strike cell believed it was tracking an ISIS-K member from a terrorist hideout as he moved through the city over the course of eight hours.

In reality, the military was tracking Zamarai Ahmadi, an Afghan who worked for Nutrition and Education International, a non-governmental organization focused on food security. Ahmadi had applied for a special immigrant visa and intended to bring his family to the United States.

About three weeks after the attack, the military acknowledged that it was a tragic mistake that had killed 10 innocent civilians. A subsequent Air Force review of the circumstances surrounding the attack found no “violation of law, including the law of war”.

No one has been held accountable for the mistake, even as Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin promised a greater focus on holding the military to a higher standard to prevent civilian casualties and harm.

CNN investigates US drone attack in Afghanistan 8:29

Steven Kwon, president of Nutrition and Education International, criticized the decision not to punish any US military personnel, saying, “When the Pentagon absolves itself of responsibility, it sends a dangerous and misleading message that its actions were justified in some way. way, increasing security risks and making the evacuation even more urgent.

In the longest of the three videos, the car is seen driving through the streets of Kabul in grainy black-and-white footage. About five minutes into the 15-minute video, the car reaches its final destination and begins to back slowly into a parking spot.

At seven minutes and seven seconds into the video, the words “LRD LASE DES” appear, indicating that a laser designator has identified and aimed at the target. At least two or three people are seen in the grainy video circling the car. Thirty-three seconds later, the car disappears under a brilliant ball of fire.

Drone video zooms out as the explosion recedes, with smoke billowing from the destroyed car. The drone continues to circle overhead as people move towards the scene of the explosion. About three minutes later, the video changes from black and white to color, and crowds can be seen forming around the blast site. People stand on the roofs of houses, trying to pour buckets of water over the remains of the car to extinguish the flames.

“While the attack was aimed at what was believed to be an imminent threat to our troops at Hamad Karzai International Airport, it is now believed that none of the family members killed had any connection to ISIS-K or threats to our troops. said Captain Bill Urban, a spokesman for US Central Command, after the videos were released. “We deeply regret the loss of life that resulted from this attack.”

US Central Command, which oversees military operations in Afghanistan and the Middle East, released the videos in response to a Freedom of Information Act request from The New York Times, which first reported on them.

A second video, five minutes long, shows the Corolla in color and higher quality in the minutes before and after the attack, although the car disappears behind a building for part of the video. The video switches to black and white at about the midpoint when a white diamond marker appears over the car. The marker turns purple seconds before the missile hits the car and an explosion fills the screen. The video then switches back to color, and soon after, crowds begin to form on the scene. The video then zooms out of the explosion.

A third video, also about five minutes long, shows a drone surveying various locations in Kabul before zeroing in on a parking lot with several parked white cars.