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A video analysis shows the United States may have mistakenly targeted an aid worker rather than ISIL (ISIS) fighters in its final attack in Afghanistan that killed 10 civilians, The New York Times reported.
The Pentagon has said it disrupted a new attack planned by the armed group through a Reaper drone attack on August 29 – the day before US troops ended their 20-year mission and following a devastating attack outside the airport where vast crowds rushed to leave the victorious Taliban.
But Kabul resident Aimal Ahmadi earlier told AFP news agency the US raid killed 10 civilians including his small daughter, nephews, nieces and his brother Ezmarai Ahmadi, who was driving the car that was struck after he parked.
The New York Times, analysing security camera footage, said the US military may have been seeing the slain Ahmadi and a colleague loading canisters of water, which was in short supply after the collapse of the Western-backed government, and picking up a laptop for his boss.
Ezmarai Ahmadi was an electrical engineer for the California-based aid and lobbying group Nutrition and Education International and was among thousands of Afghans who had applied for resettlement in the US, relatives said.
US officials say a more powerful blast took place after the drone attack, showing there were explosives in the vehicle.
But The New York Times investigation said there was no evidence of a second explosion, with only one dent on a nearby gate and no clear signs of an additional blast such as blown-out walls.
Commenting on the report, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said the US Central Command “continues to assess” the raid but “no other military works harder than we do to prevent civilian casualties”.
“As Chairman [Mark] Milley said, the strike was based on good intelligence, and we still believe that it prevented an imminent threat to the airport and to our men and women that were still serving at the airport,” Kirby said, referring to the top US general.
The New York Times noted a rocket attack the following morning, claimed by ISIL, was carried out from a Toyota Corolla similar to Ahmadi’s.
More than 71,000 Afghan and Pakistani civilians have died directly from the war launched by the US after the September 11, 2001 attacks, with casualties rising dramatically after then-President Donald Trump relaxed rules of engagement in 2017, according to a Brown University study in April.