Analysis of the U.S. drone strike’s aftermath in Kabul suggests no evidence the car contained explosives, experts say


When a Hellfire missile was launched on Aug. 29 at a goal in a Kabul neighborhood — a parked automotive suspected of containing explosives to be used in a suicide assault — U.S. navy officers mentioned they had been assured the driving force and one other man on the location had suspected militant ties and had been the one folks close by.

The missile took about half a minute to succeed in the white sedan. In that point, three kids approached the automotive simply earlier than it was destroyed, in response to a senior U.S. navy official talking on the situation of anonymity to debate an ongoing navy investigation. The youngsters had been killed, the official mentioned, and households of the victims mentioned another seven people additionally died within the strike, together with the driving force and the second man.

U.S. Central Command’s initial description of the drone strike in a press release mentioned that the operation focused a automobile linked to the Islamic State-Khorasan and produced “vital secondary explosions” from the automobile, indicating a “substantial quantity of explosive materials.”

The Washington Put up supplied imagery of the harm attributable to the strike and U.S. navy assessments of the operation to consultants, together with a physicist and former bomb technicians, and spoke to the nonprofit that employed the driving force focused within the operation. Taken collectively, their assessments counsel there isn’t a proof the automotive contained explosives; two consultants mentioned proof pointed to an ignition of gas tank vapors because the potential reason for the second blast.

The driving force’s employer, a California-based group, mentioned his actions across the metropolis had been a part of his duties for the nonprofit and mentioned the navy could have misinterpreted what he was doing as he moved from place to put and loaded packages into the automobile.

The consultants cautioned that their evaluation is reliant on photographs and video obtained by The Put up, witness accounts and restricted info supplied by the Pentagon; some consultants mentioned it was attainable the automobile contained a small quantity of explosives.

Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, defended the operation, calling it a “righteous strike” that foiled a deliberate assault by the Islamic State affiliate in Afghanistan simply days after a suicide bombing by the group at a Kabul worldwide airport gate had killed 13 U.S. service members and greater than 170 Afghans.

“Had been there others killed? Sure, there are others killed,” Milley mentioned just a few days afterward. “Who they’re, we don’t know.”

U.S. Central Command, which is conducting an investigation into the strike, didn’t present a response to questions raised by analysts.

The strike

The automotive was tracked for about eight hours, starting on the morning of Aug. 29, in response to the senior navy official. Army analysts had zeroed in on a constructing they mentioned was an ISIS-Ok protected home linked to the sooner suicide assault on the airport gate. The automotive left that location a little bit after 9 a.m., making stops alongside the best way, selecting up and dropping off varied passengers.

About an hour earlier than the strike, a number of males loaded greater than 10 packages into the automotive, which look like heavy and dealt with “gingerly,” the navy official mentioned. Intercepted communications amongst suspected militants mentioned the automotive would meet a motorcyclist shortly earlier than the driving force of the white sedan had such an interplay, the official mentioned.

Army officers mentioned the U.S. had credible intelligence pointing to a probable second assault on the airport and believed the automotive could be used for that function. They mentioned they determined to strike the automobile after it pulled into the courtyard as a result of that they had “affordable certainty” that hurt to civilians could possibly be averted or minimized.

Regardless of Milley’s confidence that the strike was justified, navy officers say their overview of the incident just isn’t but conclusive on the matter. The house the place the parked automotive was struck — about 4 miles from the airport — was not beforehand identified to navy and intelligence analysts, the senior navy official mentioned.

“The short-look evaluation … mentioned that it’s doubtless there have been a point of explosives within the automobile,” the official mentioned, describing a confidence stage of greater than 50 % after an preliminary overview.

“However ‘doubtless’ doesn’t ‘imply for positive,’” the official mentioned. The Protection Division declined to publicly launch video of the strike, citing the continued investigation. | Evaluation of the U.S. drone strike’s aftermath in Kabul suggests no proof the automotive contained explosives, consultants say


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