The Pentagon admits that its airstrike accidentally hit a hospital in Afghanistan killing 22 people but also say that it was the Afghan military that requested the use of air power.
General John F. Campbell, the top commander of US and coalition forces in Afghanistan, said that Afghan forces told US forces on the ground that they needed air support.
US forces proceeded with the air strike, which led to several civilians being “accidentally struck,” he added.
RT reports: Campbell said he was correcting an initial US statement that said the airstrike was called to defend US forces under fire. He declined to provide more details, saying a military investigation is ongoing.
“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,” Campbell said.
“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.”
Campbell said US forces’ errors would be “acknowledged,” but it was not as yet clear whether the strike on the hospital was the only mistake. He gave no more details, according to AP, referring to the ongoing military investigation.
“As you know the United States military takes extraordinary steps to avoid harm to civilians. However, the Taliban have chosen to fight from within a heavily urbanized area, purposely placing civilians in harm’s way. We will continue to take all necessary steps to avoid future civilian casualties,” Campbell said.
The airstrike was requested by the Afghans, not the Americans, an investigator told Campbell. The general is currently based in Kabul, but was in Washington on Monday to testify before two congressional committees this week.
Moscow has strongly condemned the US airstrike in Kunduz, stressing that it was inflicted despite the coalition forces being notified of the facility’s exact location.
“We find it puzzling that the airstrike took place despite the international coalition being notified of the exact coordinates of the hospital to prevent possible attacks,” Maria Zakharova, spokesperson for the Russian Foreign Ministry, said on Monda