The US military on Friday said it plans to compensate the relatives of the 10 civilians — including seven children — killed in a botched airstrike in Kabul, Afghanistan in August.
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said in a statement that the Department of Defense is also working with the State Department to relocate the families to the US.
The matter of condolence payments came up in a meeting Thursday between Dr. Colin Kahl, under secretary of defense for policy, and Dr. Steven Kwon, founder and president of the charity group Nutrition & Education International, employer of aid worker Zemerai Ahmadi, who was among those killed in the drone strike.
“Dr. Kahl reiterated Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin’s commitment to the families, including offering ex gratia condolence payments,” Kirby said.
He did not say how much money would be offered.
On Aug. 29, one day before the final chaotic US evacuation flights from Kabul, a Hellfire missile struck a van driven by Ahmadi after it had pulled into the family’s compound, killing the aid worker and nine others.
The Pentagon initially said the strike was a successful, “righteous” mission that had killed terrorists from ISIS-K, the local Afghani affiliate of the terror group, preventing another suicide bombing at the airport such as the blast that killed 169 Afghan civilians and 13 US service members days earlier on Aug. 26.
Nearly three weeks later, Marine Corps Gen. Kenneth McKenzie Jr., commander of US Central Command, admitted the “tragic mistake,” offering his condolences to the families of those killed in the errant strike.
The Pentagon described Ahmadi’s accidental killing as a consequence of the frenzied evacuation effort after the Taliban swept into Kabul before President Biden’s Aug. 31 deadline to pull US forces from the country.
Ahmadi had spent 14 years as a technical engineer in Afghanistan for the Pasadena, Calif.-based charity group, which feeds hungry Afghans.
In Thursday’s meeting, Kwon said Ahmadi had worked “providing care and lifesaving assistance for people facing high mortality rates in Afghanistan,” according to Kirby.
Grieving relatives have lobbied the US government for compensation and help to leave the country.
“Whether in America or another country, we want peace and comfort for our remaining years,” Samim Ahmadi — the 24-year-old stepson of Zemerai— told the Washington Post last month.
“Everyone makes mistakes. The Americans cannot bring back our loved ones, but they can take us out of here.”
With Post wires
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