Thursday, November 5, 2015

Followup on Kunduz war crimes

MSF, whose hospital was the target of a US airstrike ordered by Afghan forces last month, has issued a report of its investigation of this event which found:
The medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders on Thursday released its internal report about the October attack on its hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan.
At least 30 people were killed in the airstrikes, led by U.S. forces, the report said. "Patients burned in their beds," it added, and "medical staff were decapitated and lost limbs."
The report revealed that pilots shot at staff members fleeing the hospital.
"Many staff describe seeing people being shot, most likely from the plane, as people tried to flee the main hospital building that was being hit with each airstrike," the report said. "Some accounts mention shooting that appears to follow the movement of people on the run. [Doctors Without Borders] doctors and other medical staff were shot while running to reach safety in a different part of the compound."
MSF also found that "a patient in a wheelchair attempting to escape from the
inpatient department ... was killed by shrapnel from a blast."
On that same day, other non-Taliban targets were attacked.
Hours earlier, U.S. warplanes zeroed in on a warehouse and a mansion in two densely populated residential areas, according to witnesses and local officials. No one was killed in those attacks, but the targets were pulverized and the walls and windows of nearby homes were shattered.
All three U.S. strikes — on the warehouse, the mansion and the hospital — were requested by Afghan commanders, who say they asked for help because their forces were under attack by Taliban fighters. But residents said that while their neighborhoods had been conflict zones earlier, there were no militants at any of the locations at the time of the attacks.
 It's pretty clear that our gallant Afghan allies had agendas other than routing the Taliban from Kunduz, and our clueless military was just naively (I hope) carrying them out.

But maybe not: this kind of complicates the case for that view:

As an American gunship unleashed burst after burst of cannon fire on Doctors Without Borders’ (MSF) hospital in Kunduz, medical staff inside the building frantically tried to alert military headquarters in Kabul and Washington DC.
When they finally received a reply, a massacre had already happened.
At 2.52am – at least 45 minutes into the attack and 30 minutes after MSF’s first call – a text message arrived from Nato’s Afghanistan mission: “I’m sorry to hear that, I still do not know what happened.”
When MSF personnel demanded an end to the attack, and warned that heavy casualties were feared, the Nato officer texted back, at 2.59am: “I’ll do my best, praying for you all.”
(Sounds like a commiseration on facebook, not a response from someone who has the intention or power to stop the attack.)
It took another 15 minutes before the airstrike stopped. By that time at least 22 people in the facility were dead or mortally wounded.
This suggests US command, at least on some levels, were not interested in stopping the attack, which suggests that it did not view it as a mistake.

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