The U.S. Pentagon retreated from its defence of a drone strike that killed several civilians in Afghanistan last month, announcing Friday that an internal review revealed that only civilians were killed in the attack, not an Islamic State extremist as first believed.
"The strike was a tragic mistake," Marine Gen. Frank McKenzie, head of U.S. Central Command, told a Pentagon news conference.
McKenzie apologized for the mistake and said the United States is considering making reparation payments to the family of the victims.
He said the decision to strike a white Toyota Corolla sedan after tracking it for hours, was made in an "earnest belief" — based on a standard of "reasonable certainty" — that it posed an imminent threat to American forces who were securing the Kabul airport. The car was believed to have been carrying explosives in its trunk, he said.
For days after the Aug. 29 strike, Pentagon officials asserted that it had been conducted correctly, despite 10 civilians being killed, including seven children.