PICTURED: A U.S. Air Force Airman guides qualified evacuees aboard a U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III in support of the noncombatant evacuation operation at Hamid Karzai International Airport.
KABUL, Afghanistan. August 30th, 2021. The evacuation from the Kabul airport has been like a microcosm of the 20-year war’s history. A general with a spotty track-record of success is put in charge of an operation which seems to proceed badly. After initial failures, addressing the situation is delayed until consequences are felt. In retaliation, the U.S. military lashes out and kills mostly Afghani civilians, before a half-hearted cover-up is revealed and an “investigation” seeks to provide a rather tame press with answers.
In the days following the local ISIS affiliate suicide bomb attack on the airport which killed more than 180 people including 13 American service members and 28 Taliban fighters, the U.S. ordered a drone strike on a vehicle which eyewitnesses, including the victims’ family members say killed between 9 and 20 people.
“US military forces conducted a “self-defense unmanned over-the-horizon airstrike” today on a vehicle in Kabul, eliminating an imminent ISIS-K threat to Hamid Karzai International Airport,” the corresponding CENTCOM statement read.
CENTCOM said the vehicle carried “multiple suicide bombers,” but the last remaining member of the thusly-clipped family tree told CNN reporters at the scene that 6 children, and three adults from his family were killed when hellfire missiles exploded two separate vehicles.
“We are not ISIS or Daesh and this was a family home — where my brothers lived with their families,” the witness told CNN. “The father of the family and another young boy and there were two children. They were dead. They were in pieces. There were [also] two wounded,” said a neighbor.
A house seems to have also been destroyed, where another family was killed, bringing the total to 20 said another neighbor.
Capt. Bill Urban, a spokesperson for US Central Command said “we are confident we successfully hit the target,” adding that “we would be deeply saddened by any potential loss of innocent life”.
A story buried
Meanwhile on Sunday, Joe Lauria, investigate reporter and editor-in-chief of Consortium News, compiled media reports that seem to indicate that his opposite numbers in many of the largest news outlets buried a story that following the ISIS-K bombing, U.S. soldiers may have sprayed the surrounding throngs of gathered civilians with gunfire.
The New York Times reported in a piece with a generic headline about the evacuation that “for the first time, Pentagon officials publicly acknowledged the possibility that some people killed outside the airport on Thursday might have been shot by American service members after the suicide bombing”.
“Investigators are looking into whether the gunfire came from Americans at the gate, or from the Islamic State”.
That, as Lauria points out, required the reader’s attention until “the 29th paragraph of a 39-paragraph [article]”.
CNN’s only mention of it was from the lips of a witness speaking with Anderson Cooper, who told him he could hear gunfire and sirens. The most compelling piece of evidence was a pair of men interviewed by the BBC’s Secunder Kermani, who claimed the shooting was from U.S. and Turkish soldiers in towers.
Our report from last night on the awful ISIS attack outside Kabul airport as families still search Kabul's morgues for their loved ones..
Many we spoke to, including eyewitnesses, said significant numbers of those killed were shot dead by US forces in the panic after the blast pic.twitter.com/ac5nUVeJ4x
— Secunder Kermani (@SecKermani) August 28, 2021
While the Defense Dept. didn’t respond to the BBC’s request for comment, an official in the midst of a press briefing did say that they can neither confirm or deny allegations of U.S. soldiers firing into crowds.
It’s an unhappy end to an unhappy war, with the Pentagon saying the “retrograde” [read: ‘retreat’] is now within its final hours.
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