White House: bombing of hospital ‘collateral damage’, not a war crime

The White House has said that the US airstrike against a Doctors Without Borders hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan, was not a “war crime.”

The United States carried out the air strike on the hospital in the northern city of Kunduz on Saturday, which resulted in the deaths of 22 civilians.

Since the deadly strike, US officials have offered contradictory statements about how a US aircraft ended up bombing the hospital.

On Monday, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest, in response to a question on whether the incident was a “war crime,” said, “Well, I wouldn’t use a label like that because that is under investigation.”

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest

“The events in Afghanistan are a profound tragedy. We’re talking about doctors who have left the safety and comfort of their homes, traveled to a remote region of the world that everybody knows is dangerous and they’re risking their lives,” Earnest continued. “The fact that some of those individuals lost their lives is a profound tragedy.”

He also said President Barack Obama “has confidence” in the three investigations which are being conducted by the Department of Defense, NATO, as well as one between US and Afghan military personnel.

General John Campbell, top US commander in Afghanistan, said Monday that the attack was carried out at the request of Afghan forces.

The US military had previously said that American troops were under Taliban fire and had called in the strike. It termed the hospital as “collateral damage.”

The Afghan Defense Ministry earlier said Taliban militants had attacked the hospital and were using the building “as a human shield.”

Afghanistan MSF air strike Kunduz hospital

Medical personnel treat civilians injured following the US airstrike on the hospital in Kunduz.

However, the hospital dismissed claims that members of the Taliban militant group were firing against Afghan and US forces from the clinic.

The humanitarian aid group said in a statement that at 2:10 a.m. local time on Saturday (2040 GMT) its trauma center in Kunduz was hit several times. It added that the aerial assault continued for more than half an hour after US and Afghan military officials in Kabul and Washington were first informed.

Kunduz is strategic as it is located on a crossroad that connects key regions of the country.

Kunduz hospital Afghanistan

Kunduz hospital in Afghanistan after being bombed for 1hr by U.S. jets.

SOURCE