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US military killed 12 Afghan civilians in 2021; 10 in Kabul drone strike: Pentagon

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Afghans inspect damage of Ahmadi family house after US drone raid in Kabul on August 29. (Photo by NYT)

The US military, which invaded and illegally occupied Afghanistan for almost two decades, killed 12 Afghan civilians in 2021, according to a congressionally mandated Pentagon report, pointing to a tip of an iceberg.

They were killed in a botched drone strike the American military carried out in the Afghan capital Kabul on August 29, 2021, the report states, one day before the phased US military drawdown ended.

Seven of the ten civilians killed in that incident were children, according to the report released on Tuesday, which constitutes only a fraction of atrocities unleashed by the US forces in Afghanistan.

It also documents the killing of a civilian in a US strike on January 8 in western Herat province, and another on August 11 in southern Kandahar province.

The botched drone strike in August 2021 prompted a half-hearted apology from then-head of US Central Command Gen. Frank McKenzie, who admitted it was a “mistake.”

However, no US military officials or troops were punished or held accountable for the deadly strike.

Taliban staged a stunning comeback in August 2021, toppling the West-backed government in Kabul and forcing the US and its allies to abandon the country after years of futile military adventure.

For two decades, the war in Afghanistan remained an enigma for the successive US governments, from George Bush to Joe Biden, finally ending in a botched military exit and a disgraceful defeat.

It started on February 29, 2020, when then-US President Donald Trump’s administration signed an agreement with the Taliban to pull out US troops from the country by May 1, 2021.

The deal, however, failed to de-escalate tensions between the two sides.

On April 14, 2021, President Joe Biden announced that the remaining 2,500-3,500 US troops in Afghanistan would withdraw by September 11 to end what he called America’s “forever war.”

Between May and August 2021, the Taliban overran several key provincial capitals across the South Asian country, with the beleaguered Afghan forces offering little resistance.

On August 15, 2021, the Taliban fighters finally marched into Kabul, without firing a single bullet, as the US-backed government officials fled the country.

A day after, thousands of panic-stricken people flocked to the Kabul Airport, looking for evacuation flights. The disastrous war ended the way it started — in a reckless fashion.

Amid the ensuing chaos and commotion, on August 29, a US drone strike killed 10 family members, including seven children, near the airport.

The bombing targeted the car of Zemari Ahmadi, an Afghan national who worked for a US-based aid organization, killing him and nine of his family members.

In September 2021, the Pentagon acknowledged it was a tragic mistake but said none of the military personnel involved in the botched strike will face any kind of punishment, prompting a global outcry.

“What we saw here was a breakdown in process, and execution in procedural events, not the result of negligence, not the result of misconduct, not the result of poor leadership,” said John Kirby, Pentagon’s chief spokesman.

“So I do not anticipate there being issues of personal accountability to be had with respect to the Aug. 29 airstrike.”

One year since the US withdrawal from Afghanistan, the Taliban government in Kabul continues to struggle with the rapidly deteriorating humanitarian situation in the country amid crippling US sanctions and a shortage of funds.

Millions of Afghans are without work now, the banking system is virtually dysfunctional, medical facilities are lying in tatters and the worst humanitarian catastrophe in modern history is in the making. 

Afghans have expressed anger over the Biden administration's decision to withhold billions of dollars in frozen assets from the Afghan central bank, distributing large parts to the families of the 9/11 victims. 


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