General says US responsible for hospital bombing

Gen. John Campbell, the commander in charge of the U.S.-led NATO coalition in Afghanistan, emphasized Tuesday that the U.S. was responsible for the bombing of a Doctors Without Borders hospital in Afghanistan.

While Campbell told a Senate panel that the Afghans requested the deadly airstrike, he said U.S. officials signed off on it and were ultimately responsible.

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"A hospital was mistakenly struck," Campbell said. “We would never intentionally target a protected medical facility."

Campbell told the Senate panel that the hospital was mistakenly hit and that he’s directed his entire force to undergo training on operational authorities and rules of engagement.

He declined repeatedly to get into further details of the incident, pending three ongoing enquiries. Pentagon, NATO and Afghan officials are investigating the incident.

Campbell was speaking before the Senate Armed Services Committee days after U.S. airstrikes hit a Doctors Without Borders hospital in Kunduz, killing 10 patients and 12 staff members.

His comments on Tuesday differed from remarks on Monday, when he said the U.S. conducted the airstrike at the request of Afghan security forces that were under fire from the Taliban.

Those remarks also walked back previous reports that it was U.S. Special Operations Forces who were under fire.

After Monday’s comments, Doctors Without Borders said the U.S. was attempting to pass off responsibility for the attack.

“The reality is the U.S. dropped those bombs,” the charity’s General Director Christopher Stokes said in a written statement Monday.

Doctors Without Borders has also called for an independent investigation. Campbell told the Senate panel he would leave it up to his superiors to decide whether to cooperate with an independent investigation.