U.S. General John Campbell claims that Afghan allies called in a U.S. airstrike that killed 22 people at a Doctors Without Borders (Medecins Sans Frontieres) (MSF) clinic, in direct contrast to an earlier statement which claimed that the American military acted independently.
Gen. Campbell’s new assertion comes amid calls from MSF to wholly condemn the act. The humanitarian group says that the new claims are “an admission of a war crime,” the BBC reports.
The clinic that was hit by the strike was located in Kunduz, where the Taliban are squaring off against U.S.-led coalition partners. MSF reported that twelve of its staff and ten patients were killed in the strike.
“We have now learned that on 3 October, Afghan forces advised that they were taking fire from enemy positions and asked for air support from US air forces,” Gen. Campbell said in a statement Monday.
“An air strike was then called to eliminate the Taliban threat and several civilians were accidentally struck, he added, while expressing the “deepest condolences” for the tragedy that occurred.
Christopher Stokes, the General Director of MS, told the BBC that the Unites States is “attempting to pass responsibility to the Afghanistan government” and that “the reality is the US dropped those bombs.”
“The US hit a huge hospital full of wounded patients and MSF staff. the US military remains responsible for the targets it hits, even though it is part of a coalition,” Stokes added. “There can be no justification for this horrible attack. With such constant discrepancies in the US and Afghan accounts of that happened, the need for a full transparent independent investigation is ever more critical.”
Afghanistan authorities claimed over the weekend that “armed terrorists” had been using the hospital to target civilians and members of the military, a claim that was echoed by the Pentagon before Gen. Campbell would eventually reverse course.
Afghan parliamentarians have put pressure on the U.S. and Afghan government to remain transparent in the investigation.
“I would like President Ghani to stand up and defend Afghan civil rights from all irresponsible actions taken by our forces or coalition forces,” Shukria Barakzai, a member of parliament, told Reuters.