Afghan forces called for MSF hospital strike in Kunduz: NATO cmdr
Gen. John Campbell made the statement at a hastily arranged Pentagon news conference. (AFP/File)
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The US airstrike that killed at least 22 people at a hospital in northern Kunduz province was requested by Afghan forces who reported being under fire from Taliban, the top American and NATO commander in Kabul said on Monday.
“We have now learned that on October 3, Afghan forces advised that they were taking fire from enemy positions and asked for air support from US forces,” Gen. John Campbell made the statement at a hastily arranged Pentagon news conference.
He said an airstrike was then called to eliminate the Taliban threat and several civilians were accidentally struck, Campbell told reporters at the early morning news conference.
He said this was different from initial reports which indicated that US forces were threatened and that the airstrike was called on their behalf, he said, adding that he had ordered a thorough investigation into the tragic incident and the investigation was ongoing.
Afghanistan has also ordered a separate investigation.
“If errors were committed, we'll acknowledge them. We'll hold those responsible accountable and we will take steps to ensure mistakes are not repeated,” he said.
The US military, he asserted, took extraordinary steps to avoid harm to civilians. However, the Taliban have purposely chose a fight from within a heavily urbanized area, placing civilians in harms way, he alleged.
Campbell, who is in Washington to testify before a Congressional Committee on Tuesday, said he would ensure that the investigation was transparent and open.
In addition to the US and Afghans, NATO is carrying out its own investigation into the air strikes at a hospital in Kunduz that resulted in a large number of casualties.
“Afghans asked for air support from a special forces team that we have on the ground providing training advice and assisting in conduce. The initial statement that went out was that US forces were under direct fire contact. What I'm doing is correcting that statement here,” he said.
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