On the night of October 3, 2015 A U.S. AC-130 gunship attacked a hospital in the Afghan city of Kunduz, run by the humanitarian organization Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders.
And despite frantic calls from MSF doctors kept up its attack for half an hour.
Forty two staff members and patients were killed, many of them burned to death in their beds.
But today the Pentagon released a report claiming that murderous assault was not a war crime.
A US air strike that destroyed a medical charity's clinic in northern Afghanistan, killing 42 people, was not a war crime, the Pentagon has said. Confirming disciplinary charges against 16 US service personnel, General Joseph Votel said the "tragic strike" was due to human and technical errors.
So no-one will face criminal charges, even though MSF had provided the U.S. military with the hospital's GPS location, and this is no excuse.
"The investigation found that the incident resulted from a combination of human errors, process errors and equipment failures and that none of the personnel knew they were striking a hospital," he said. He added: "The fact this was unintentional takes it out of the realm of being a deliberate war crime."
And as MSF is demanding, we do need an independent investigation.
"Today's briefing amounts to an admission of an uncontrolled military operation in a densely populated urban area, during which US forces failed to follow the basic laws of war," said MSF President Meinie Nicolai. The charity repeated a call for an independent investigation into the incident.
If you have the time, you should read this long and detailed story on what happened on the night that death rained down from the sky.
The picture that emerges from these firsthand accounts, as well as from interviews with several high-ranking Afghan officials, is one of remarkable chaos and uncertainty, even by the standards of war. Those on the ground said it was not clear who was in charge, and those in charge seemed not to have had a clear understanding of what was happening on the ground at any given point before, during, and after the fall of the city.
For in addition to revealing a picture of mass confusion and incredible incompetence, it also makes it only too clear that the Afghan army that we helped train does not respect the Geneva Convention.
The general sense among the Afghan forces was that the war was going nowhere good. In a losing battle, all becomes fair, including the bombing of a hospital that many had come to believe was harboring insurgents.
And what's also clear is that the bombing of hospitals is becoming a deadly trend. With this Canadian supported clinic in Syria being the latest to be targeted.
The Canadian branch of a medical non-profit reports that one of its clinics in Aleppo, Syria, has been destroyed, and is pointing the finger at airstrikes by Russian and regime forces.
And although thank goodness nobody was killed or injured because the clinic was closed, the results are still catastrophic.
UOSSM-Canada says that 1,400 people, mostly women and children, have now lost access to medical care as a result of the clinic's destruction.
And what is also clear is that these murderous attacks on hospitals have to stop.
Plz stand with us; ask @UN Security Council #UNSC to reaffirm that hospitals are #NotATarget https://t.co/7VuHbcENng pic.twitter.com/1iloFZnI2t— MSF Canada (@MSF_canada) April 28, 2016
So please help spread this message:
Hospitals, doctors, and patients are not a target.
Attacks on them cannot be justified.
And are always a war crime...
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