The US military took responsibility Tuesday for the deadly weekend air strike on a hospital in the Afghan city of Kunduz, describing it as a mistake and promising to hold people accountable.
Defense Secretary Ash Carter said the Pentagon “deeply regrets” the loss of life in the bombing incident, Reuters reported.
“The US military takes the greatest care in our operations to prevent the loss of innocent life, and when we make mistakes, we own up to them. That’s exactly what we’re doing right now,” Carter was quoted as saying in a statement.
“We will do everything we can to understand this tragic incident, learn from it, and hold people accountable as necessary,” he said.
Saturday’s strike on an Afghan hospital run by Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) killed 22 people and deeply angered the medical charity.
MSF officials have blamed the US, demanding an independent investigation into an attack it called a war crime.
Ahead of Carter’s statement, the American commander of international forces in Afghanistan also called the air strike a mistake made within the US chain of command.
In testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee, General John Campbell said the US military had responded to a request from Afghan forces and provided close air support as they engaged in a fight with Taliban militants in Kunduz.
“To be clear, the decision to provide aerial fires was a US decision made within the US chain of command,” Campbell said.
“A hospital was mistakenly struck,” he said. “We would never intentionally target a protected medical facility.”
The comments by Carter and Campbell were the most direct acknowledgement yet by the US government that the strike on the hospital was carried out by US forces, Reuters noted.
– Contact us at [email protected]