An American and an Italian hostage were killed during drone strikes against al-Qaeda forces in the borders of Afghanistan and Pakistan.
The US operation carried out in January this year was a U.S. counter-terrorism operation which targeted an al-Qaeda compound using drones.
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“No words can fully express our regret over this terrible tragedy,” the White House said Thursday, revealing previously classified finding about the January operation. The US president “takes full responsibility for these operations.”
The White House identified the hostages killed in the operation as American contractor Warren Weinstein and Italian aid worker Giovanni Lo Porto.
Weinstein worked for a US government agency before being abducted by militants in Lahore, Pakistan, in August of 2011.
US officials told CNN the hostages were killed by a US military drone strike targeting the compound.
The White House said it had no knowledge that the two hostages were present in the compound before it was targeted.
President Barack Obama expressed his regrets Thursday morning and apologized on behalf of the US government.
“As president and as Commander-in-Chief, I take full responsibility for all our counterterrorism operations including the one that inadvertently took the lives of Warren and Giovanni,” he said.
Obama added that the United States will learn lessons from “this tragedy” and make necessary changes to its counterterrorism operations. “We will do our utmost to ensure it is not repeated.”
The White House also disclosed that two al-Qaeda operatives, both Americans, were killed in US operations in the same region.
Al-Qaeda leader Ahmed Farouq was killed in the operation that killed Weinstein and Lo Porto.
Adam Gadahn, a senior member of the militant group, was also killed by US forces in a separate counter-terrorism operation.
Over 2,000 people have been killed in US drone strikes in Pakistan alone in the past decade, according to official figures from Islamabad.
The Pakistani government has been also criticized for allowing the US to carry out its drone strikes near the country’s border with Afghanistan.
The aerial attacks, initiated by former US president, George W. Bush in 2004, have been escalated under President Obama.
Pakistan has repeatedly protested that innocent civilians bear the brunt of the devastating attacks.
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