It was nearly six years ago on October 3 that the Médecins Sans Frontières hospital near Kunduz, Afghanistan, was hit by US airstrikes. The bombings occurred ‘repeatedly and precisely’ and for more than 30 minutes afterwards, hospital officials frantically called Afghan and American military officials.
In the end, the hospital — which was caring for Afghans wounded in the ongoing war — was partially destroyed and 22 civilians and medical workers lay dead. The timeline afterward went something like this: the Pentagon acknowledged there may have been collateral damage to a nearby medical facility during a fight with Taliban insurgents. A day later, officials said the US had fired on insurgents who were engaging with Afghan military in ‘the vicinity’ of the hospital. On the third day, they blamed the Afghan military for calling in the strike. On October 6, Gen. John Campbell told a Senate committee that US special forces on the ground, in coordination with Afghan forces, called in the attack that ‘mistakenly struck’ the hospital.
Of course, questions continued to swirl, as reports emerged there were classified recordings of the gunship cockpit communications indicating the pilots questioned whether the strikes were legal as they were firing. In addition, the MSF charity claimed it had shared hospital coordinates with the Americans as recently as September 29, casting doubt on any assertion that the military did not know they were firing on a medical facility, which is outside the rules of engagement.
The fog of war indeed. But that event six years ago illustrates that the most recent ‘mistake’ by the US military — a drone attack in Kabul that killed 10 civilians, mostly children — is just the latest in an ongoing tableau of carnage.
Read the full article in The Spectator.