Blinken says U.S. doesn't know who was killed in Kabul drone strike

Facing scrutiny from a Senate panel Tuesday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken admitted that he doesn't know if the U.S. mistakenly targeted an aid worker in a drone strike in Kabul that reportedly killed 10 Afghan civilians.

Driving the news: The U.S. is still investigating the strike, and maintains it "was taken to prevent an imminent threat to the airport," Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby said in a statement Tuesday. "We do work very hard to avoid civilian casualties, and we would be deeply saddened by any loss of innocent life.”

  • The New York Times reported the drone had mistakenly hit a worker for the U.S. aid group Zemari Ahmadi.

What they're saying: "Was he an aid worker or an ISIS-K operative?" Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) asked Blinken at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing Tuesday about the chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan.

  • "I don't know," Blinken said, adding that the strike is still under review.
  • "You'd think you'd kind of know before you off somebody with a predator drone, whether he's an aid worker or he's an ISIS-K operative," Paul responded, suggesting that past administrations have also killed civilians in airstrikes, resulting in "blowback" that can engender more extremists.

Go deeper: Top Democrat threatens to subpoena Biden officials as Blinken testifies on Afghanistan

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