International Aid Group Blasts Pentagon for Shifting Stand on Afghan Hospital Air Assault
The international aid group has said its hospital in Kunduz Province was known to the U.S. military, having notified it several times about its coordinates, including five days before the attack that killed or wounded dozens of staffers and patients.
Doctors Without Borders even contacted the U.S. military during the airstrike by an AC-130 gunship to urge them to stop. The attack reportedly went on for 30 minutes.
The Pentagon first denied the attack even happened, then said it did, but said the Taliban could have been using it as a base; then blamed it on Afghan forces that requested help from the U.S. while fighting the Taliban.
Gen. John F. Campbell, the American commander in Afghanistan, is said to believe U.S. troops broke the rules of engagement by calling in the airstrike on behalf of Afghan forces, according to The New York Times. In addition, the Special Operations troops involved did not have “eyes on” the site, enabling them to ensure it was a legitimate target. Nevertheless, Campbell took responsibility for the catastrophe.
“A hospital was mistakenly struck,” Campbell said.
Glenn Greenwald at The Intercept has said the airstrike may not have been an accident and it is “at least as likely” that the hospital “was deliberately targeted, chosen either by Afghan military officials who fed the coordinates to their U.S. military allies and/or by the U.S. military itself.”
Greenwald cited “long-standing tension between the Afghan military” and the Doctors Without Borders hospital, which treats wounded from both sides of the conflict.
Reuters reported in July that Afghan special forces “raided” the same hospital, claiming an al Qaeda member was a patient.
-Noel Brinkerhoff, Steve Straehley
To Learn More:
The Radically Changing Story of the U.S. Airstrike on Afghan Hospital: From Mistake to Justification (by Glenn Greenwald, The Intercept)
As Pentagon Spins U.S. Media, MSF Demands True Account of Hospital Attack (by Sarah Lazare, Common Dreams)
General Is Said to Think Afghan Hospital Airstrike Violated Rules (by Eric Schmitt and Matthew Rosenberg, New York Times)
Civilian Afghan Deaths from U.S. Drone Strikes Continue to Build Hatred of U.S. (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)
Rumsfeld’s Special Unit Responsible for Worst Civilian Killings in Afghanistan (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)
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