A U.S. counterterrorism drone strike killed two hostages taken by al-Qaeda, the White House announced Thursday. It also said it believes two American leaders of the terror group, including al-Qaeda spokesman Adam Gadahn, have been killed.
The hostages killed were American Dr. Warren Weinstein and Italian national Giovanni Lo Porto, according to a White House statement, which said the strike took place in January.
At the White House, President Barack Obama expressed his condolences to the families of Weinstein and Lo Porto, who were serving as aid workers in Pakistan before being taken hostage, who had been held since 2011 and 201, respectively.
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"I realize that there are no words that can ever equal their loss, I know that there is nothing that I can ever say or do to ease their heartache," Obama said, "And today I simply want to say this: As president and commander in chief I take full responsibility for all our counterterrorism operations. ... I profoundly regret what happened."
The president said U.S. forces did not know that al-Qaeda had hid the two hostages in the compound they planned to target with counterterror operations. "It is a cruel and bitter truth that in the fog of war, generally, and in our fight against terrorists specifically, mistakes—sometimes deadly mistakes—can occur," Obama said.
The announcement also said that two other Americans, working for al-Qaeda, were likely killed in U.S. counterterror operations in the same region along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. The White House said "neither was specifically targeted, and we did not have information indicating their presence at the sites of these operations."