'Unacceptable': Bernie Sanders Calls U.S. Afghanistan Drone Strike a 'Human Tragedy'

Senator Bernie Sanders on Sunday called the deadly U.S. drone strike in Afghanistan a "human tragedy," after the Pentagon acknowledged that the attack which killed seven children was a mistake.

"I hope they understand what happened and make sure that never happens again. This is not only a human tragedy, it reflects on us before the entire world. It's unacceptable," the Vermont independent said on CBS' Face the Nation.

On August 29, before the full withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan, a U.S. military officer authorized a drone strike on a civilian vehicle target initially believed to be ISIS suicide bombers threatening American troops in Kabul.

U.S. General Kenneth McKenzie, the commander of the General Command, said Friday that the deadly attack was a "mistake" which killed 10 civilians, including seven children.

Bernie Sanders drone strike Afghanistan Pentagon deadly
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) speaks to a reporter as he leaves the U.S. Capitol following a vote on August 03, 2021 in Washington, DC. Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

"This strike was taken in the earnest belief that it would prevent an imminent threat to our forces and the evacuees at the airport, but it was a mistake and I offer my sincere apology," McKenzie told reporters Friday.

U.S. troops in Afghanistan had been evacuating people from the country following a two-decade long war in the region, which ended August 30. ISIS-K, an Islamic state-affiliated militant group in Afghanistan and Pakistan, attacked an airport in Kabul in August, killing 13 U.S. service members.

McKenzie said the botched drone strike was authorized amid a frenzied situation on the ground. "We did not have the luxury of time," he said. "We struck under the theory of reasonable certainty."

Former Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen called McKenzie's admission the "right" response.

"We now assess that it is unlikely that the vehicle and those who died were associated with ISIS-Khorasan or were a direct threat to U.S. forces," Mullen said on ABC's This Week Sunday. "I offer my profound condolences to the family and friends of those who were killed."

The Department of Defense' admission drew criticism from progressive and Republican lawmakers.

"'Sorry' isn't enough. Thousands have been killed in covert, unaccountable drone strikes over the past two decades. We should be demanding accountability for anyone involved in this and a full inquiry into this and the entire drone program," Representative Ilhan Omar, a Minnesota Democrat, tweeted.

Senator Ted Cruz, a Texas Republican, tweeted, "The Biden Afghanistan catastrophe keeps getting worse. This raises two obvious Qs: Did the Taliban provide the faulty 'intel' that led to the Biden admin killing 10 innocent civilians, including 7 children? If so, why did Biden trust the Taliban?"

Newsweek reached out to the White House for comment.