Afghan forces asked for American air support while fighting the Taliban in Kunduz shortly before an air strike resulted in the deaths of civilians there, the top US military commander in Afghanistan said on Monday.
“We have now learned that on October 3 Afghan forces advised that they were taking fire from enemy positions and asked for air support from US forces,” Reuters quoted General John Campbell as saying at a media briefing.
“An air strike was then called to eliminate the Taliban threat, and several civilians were accidentally struck.”
The remarks fell short of squarely acknowledging US responsibility for an air strike over the weekend that killed 22 people in a hospital run by aid group Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), Reuters noted.
MSF has reiterated a call for an independent investigation into the incident, though the White House said on Monday it was confident ongoing probes by the US military, NATO, and Afghan security officials would provide a full account of the circumstances surrounding the strike.
In a statement on Monday, MSF General Director Christopher Stokes said Campbell’s comments amounted to trying to pass responsibility for the strike to the Afghan government.
“The reality is the US dropped those bombs,” Stokes said.
“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. There can be no justification for this horrible attack.”
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