Afghanistan: US Gen shifts hospital bombing blame to Afghans

6th Oct 2015
Afghanistan: US Gen shifts hospital bombing blame to Afghans

WASHINGTON (AA): Deadly U.S. airstrikes on a medical clinic in northern Afghanistan were not requested by U.S forces but by Afghan troops under a Taliban attack, a top U.S. general said Monday.

“We have now learned that on Oct. 3, Afghan forces advised that they were taking fire from enemy positions and asked for air support from U.S. forces,” Gen. John Campbell said during a press conference at the Pentagon.

“An airstrike was then called to eliminate the Taliban threat and several civilians were accidentally struck. This is different from the initial reports which indicated that U.S. forces were threatened and that the airstrike was called on their behalf,” said Campbell, who said he wanted to correct an initial U.S. statement that the airstrikes were prompted by threats to U.S. forces.

“If errors were committed we will acknowledge them,” the commander said, adding his team would take steps to ensure that mistakes were not repeated.

Saturday’s airstrikes in Kunduz in northern Afghanistan that killed 22 victims, including staff with the medical aid group Doctors Without Borders (Médecins Sans Frontières) that operated the clinic, came shortly after the U.S. condemned Russia for its airstrikes in Syria that killed civilians there.

Russia condemned the airstrike at the hospital and said the incident should be investigated.

Responding to the U.S. military’s claims, Doctors Without Boards said that while the U.S. attempts to shift blame, the American military is responsible for the attacks and deaths.

“Their description of the attack keeps changing – from collateral damage, to a tragic incident, to now attempting to pass responsibility to the Afghanistan government,” said Christopher Stokes, the group’s general director. “The reality is the U.S. dropped those bombs.”

Because of the changing accounts by U.S. and Afghan officials, “the need for a full transparent independent investigation is ever more critical”, he said.

The State Department said three separate investigations have been launched in the wake of the attacks and that it was still unclear if it were U.S airstrikes that hit the hospital.

A White House spokesman said President Barack Obama “has confidence in these three investigations to provide that full accounting that he seeks”.

Gen. Campbell is currently in Washington to testify before two congressional committees this week.

Author: Esra Kaymak, Michael Hernande
[Photo: Victims of the U.S. Airstrike on Doctors Without Borders Hospital in Kunduz, receive treatment at the Mazar-e-Sharif Regional Hospital in Balkh, Afghanistan on October 04, 2015. Photographer: Sayed Khodaberdi Sadat/Anadolu Agency]

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