A top U.S. military officer states American forces are responsible for “mistakenly” hitting a hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan, in an aerial bombardment Saturday that murdered 22 people.
Army General John Campbell reported to a congressional committee in Washington that Afghan forces petitioned for the airstrike on the hospital managed by the international medical foundation Doctors Without Borders since Taliban insurgents were shooting from the facility.
However, he said the U.S. carried out the half-hour-long assault after reviewing the request.
“To be clear, the decision to provide aerial fire was a U.S. decision made within the U.S. chain of command,” Campbell said. “A hospital was mistakenly struck. We would never intentionally target a protected medical facility.”
Campbell, who oversees the NATO-led alliance in Afghanistan, refused to explain further particulars about the airstrike as U.S. and Afghan inquiries proceed.
At the White House, spokesman Josh Earnest declared the bombing a “profound tragedy and something the United States takes very seriously.”
Doctors Without Borders, identified by its French acronym MSF, has denounced the attack that murdered 12 of its personnel and ten patients as a “grave” contravention of international humanitarian law.
MSF President Joanne Liu said Tuesday that the episode “cannot be brushed aside as a mere mistake or an inevitable consequence of war.”
She said the collaboration between the Afghan and U.S. forces suggests they “decided to raze to the ground a fully functioning hospital, which amounts to an admission of a war crime.” MSF has asked for an independent examination of the strike.