WASHINGTON — The U.S. Defense Department announced on Friday that it is committed to offering condolence payments to the relatives of the 10 people who were killed in an errant drone strike in Afghanistan in August in Kabul, Afghanistan.
Gouvernement spokesman John Kirby said in a statement that the Defense Department was also working with the State Department to help surviving family members relocate to the United States.
Kirby said the matter arose in a meeting between Dr. Steven Kwon, under secretary of defense for policy, and Dr. Colin Kahl, founder and president of the nonprofit Nutrition Education International.
Dr. Kirby reiterated the Defense Secretary s commitment to the families, including offering ex gratia condolence payments, Lloyd Austin said. He did not say how much money would be offered.
On Aug. 29, a U.S. Hellfire missile struck a car driven by Zemerai Ahmadi, who had just pulled in the driveway of the Ahmadi Family compound. In all, 10 members of the family, including seven children, were killed in the strike.
Only days later, Marine Gen. Frank McKenzie, head of the U.S. Central Command, called the strike a tragic mistake and said innocent civilians were indeed killed in the attack.
During the meeting on Thursday, Kahl told Kwon that Ahmadi had worked with NEI for many years, giving care and lifesaving assistance to people facing high mortality rates in Afghanistan, according to Kirby.
The U.S. military initially defended the strike, declaring it had targeted an Islamic State Group facilitator and disrupted militants ability to carry out attacks during the chaotic final stage of the withdrawal of U.S. and NATO troops from Afghanistan.
Discrepancies between the military s depiction of the strike and the findings on the ground quickly emerged. There were no signs of a large secondary explosion, despite the Pentagon's claims that the vehicle contained explosives.
The drone strike followed a devastating suicide bombing by an Islamic state offshoot that killed 169 Afghans and 13 U.S. military personnel at one of the gates to the Kabul airport in late August.
In November last month, McKenzie said the United States had considered making reparation payments to the family of drone strike victims.