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USA general: Afghans requested U.S. airstrike in Kunduz, not US
Gen. John Campbell, addressing reporters Monday at the Pentagon, said Afghan forces advised they were taking fire from Taliban insurgents and asked for US air support.
The USA military had previously said that American troops were under Taliban fire and had called in the strike on October 3.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Saturday that at least 39 civilians – including eight children – had been killed in Russian air strikes in Syria since Wednesday, Reuters reported.
“If errors were committed we will acknowledge them”, said Campbell, the top commander of American and coalition forces in Afghanistan.
“The attack on Saturday had claimed the lives of 22 people including 12 staffers of Doctors without Borders (MSF) which also include doctors”.
The charity’s official said MSF can not trust the United States military probe.
While Campbell declined to speak about the rules of engagement for USA forces in Kunduz due to the ongoing investigation, he reconfirmed that “the Afghans asked for air support from a special forces team that we have on the ground providing train advise and assist in Kunduz“.
Barack Obama has offered his condolences to the victims and their families and promised to launch a full investigation into what he called the “tragic incident”, Reuters reports.
US Army Brigadier General Richard Kim is the senior investigator on the incident and is in Kunduz now, he added. “If there’s other investigations out there that need to go on, we’ll make sure we coordinate those as well”, he said.
The USA military, he asserted, takes extraordinary steps to avoid harm to civilians. We’re going to do everything we can in this case to be open and transparent.
“There can be no justification for this abhorrent attack on our hospital that resulted in the deaths of MSF (the organization’s French acronym) staff as they worked and patients as they lay in their beds”, the statement reads.
MSF on Sunday demanded an independent worldwide body conduct a “full and transparent” investigation of the bombing “under the clear presumption that a war crime has been committed”.
Still, while it was a US airstrike, Campbell appeared to shift blame for the casualties to the Taliban. There were more than 80 MSF staff and 105 patients and their caretakers in the hospital at the time of the attack.
MSF said that there were no reports of fighting in the compound prior to the attack.
MSF said it had recently transmitted the Global Positioning System co-ordinates of the long-established hospital to all sides in the fighting. Doctors Without Borders was one of the last providers of medical services in the region, and its hospital was the only free trauma-care facility in northern Afghanistan.