Investigation of Airstrike Against Kunduz Hospital Raises Additional Questions

Posted October 7, 2015 at 5:00am

AP reports on the developing story of how a U.S. airstrike targeted a Doctors Without Borders hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan.  

“Afghan forces who reported being under Taliban fire requested the U.S. airstrike that killed 22 people at a medical clinic in northern Afghanistan over the weekend, the top commander of American and coalition forces in Afghanistan said Monday… The strike wasn’t sought by U.S. forces, Gen. John F. Campbell said at a hastily arranged Pentagon news conference.”  

“On Saturday, Afghan officials said Taliban fighters were in the hospital at the time of the airstrike, but that is in dispute. On Sunday, NATO, under whose umbrella the U.S.-led coalition operates in Afghanistan, issued a statement saying U.S. forces had conducted an airstrike against ‘insurgents who were directly firing upon U.S. service members’ who were advising Afghan forces in Kunduz. The statement also said NATO was undertaking a preliminary assessment of the incident.”  

“The U.S. military is doing its own standard investigation under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Campbell’s revised account does not clarify whether the clinic was targeted in error or whether U.S. military personnel followed procedure. They are required to verify that the target of the requested airstrike is valid before firing. Asked about those procedures, Campbell said he would not discuss the rules of engagement under which U.S. forces operate… He said he learned from the U.S. military’s lead investigator that it was the Afghans, not the Americans, who requested the airstrike.”