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U.S. Offers Payments, Relocation To Relatives Of Afghans Killed In Drone Strike

Amal Ahmadi holds a picture of his brother, Zemerai Ahmadi, who was killed in a U.S. drone strike that the Pentagon later said was a mistake.

The U.S. Defense Department says it is has offered to pay compensation to relatives of the 10 people who were killed in a drone strike in August during the final phase of the withdrawal from Afghanistan.

The Defense Department is also working with the State Department to help family members relocate to the United States, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said in a statement on October 15.

Kirby said Colin Kahl, undersecretary of defense for policy, reiterated Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin’s commitment to offer condolence payments during a virtual meeting this week with Steven Kwon, founder and president of the nonprofit Nutrition & Education International (NEI).

The missile struck a car driven by Zemerai Ahmadi, an employee of NEI, killing him and 10 members of his family, including seven children.

Kwon said Ahmadi had work with the NEI for many years “providing care and lifesaving assistance for people facing high mortality rates in Afghanistan,” according to Kirby.

Kirby did not say how much money would be offered to the family. He said Ahmadi and the others who were killed in the strike were innocent victims who bore no blame and were not affiliated with Islamic State Khorasan (IS-K) or threats to U.S. forces.

The drone strike occurred on August 29 as the U.S. military rushed to evacuate U.S. citizens and Afghans who had worked with U.S. forces during the war. Three days earlier, a suicide attack claimed by IS-K outside the airport killed some 170 Afghans and 13 U.S. troops.

The U.S. military said at the time that there was “very credible" intelligence that IS-K militants were planning another attack on people gathered at the airport trying to leave the country after the Taliban took over the government.

A spokesman for U.S. Central Command initially said that the drone strike thwarted an imminent attack by IS-K on the evacuation, but last month General Kenneth McKenzie, head of U.S. Central Command, admitted it was a mistake and apologized.

With reporting by Reuters, AP, and AFP
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