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August 2021 Kabul drone strike
Part of the War in Afghanistan (2001–2021),
2021 Afghanistan attacks,
Drone strikes in Afghanistan
U.S. military footage of the drone strike
Location Kabul, Afghanistan
Date 29 August 2021 (2021-08-29)
16:53 (UTC+04:30)
Attack type
Drone strike
Victims 10 civilians killed, including 7 children and Zemari Ahmadi
Assailants United States Central Command (United States Armed Forces)

On 29 August 2021 an unmanned drone attack by the United States killed 10 civilians in Kabul, Afghanistan, including 7 children. Soon after the attack, the United States acknowledged that they had hit the wrong targets and only civilians were killed in the strike.[1]

The attack occurred soon after the Fall of Kabul that led to the end of the War in Afghanistan that lasted from 2001 to 2021. In the days after the Fall of Kabul, mass civilian evacuations took place at Hamid Karzai International Airport. During these evacuations, the airport was attacked by a suicide bomber, which killed at least 183 people. Anticipating imminent subsequent attacks from , U.S. forces believed that a white 1996 Toyota Corolla and its driver were linked to a terrorist plot. The driver of the car, Zemari Ahmadi, was a worker for a U.S. aid group. After Ahmadi stopped at a storehouse, six Reaper drones surrounded the compound and at 4:53 p.m. a single Hellfire missile was launched, killing 10 people. The United States military acknowledged its mistake after reviewing footage that showed three children coming to greet Ahmadi at his sedan before they were killed.[2]

The attack was conducted by the Over-the-Horizon (OTH) Strike Cell group of the U.S. Central Command.[1] On 17 September 2021, General Kenneth McKenzie accepted responsibility for the killings.[3]

On 15 October 2021, the Pentagon offered unspecified amounts of monetary compensation to the families of the victims as well as pledged help relocating to the United States. Condolence payments for deaths caused by the American military have varied widely in recent years; in fiscal year 2019 the Pentagon offered 71 such payments to victims in Afghanistan and Iraq ranging from $131 to $35,000.[4]

On 13 December 2021, the Pentagon was again widely criticised after it stated that no U.S. personnel would face disciplinary action stemming from the drone strike. The decision was made by U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin on the recommendation of two top military commanders.[5] Later, a group of 50 U.S. legislators wrote a letter to President Joe Biden calling for a review of military practices, in which they stated that "in too many instances, U.S. drone strikes have instead led to unintended and deadly consequences – killing civilians and increasing anger towards the United States". The August 2021 Kabul drone strike was called "emblematic of this systemic failure that has persisted across decades and administrations".[6]

On 27 January 2022, Secretary Austin addressed civilian casualties in drone strikes in a two-page directive in which he asked his department for a plan on the matter within 90 days.[7]

See also


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