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U.S. troops suspended over Doctors Without Borders hospital bombing

By Andrew V. Pestano
U.S. troops suspended over Doctors Without Borders hospital bombing
Gen. John Campbell said military personnel who requested the strike and those who executed it did not take "appropriate measures" to verify that the facility was a legitimate target. File photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo

WASHINGTON, Nov. 25 (UPI) -- Army Gen. John Campbell, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, announced on Wednesday that multiple U.S. service members have been suspended over the bombing of the Doctors Without Borders hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan.

Campbell said the bombing of the hospital was "the direct result of human error compounded by systems and procedural failures." Doctors Without Borders -- known officially as Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) -- has sharply and continuously condemned the strike.

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Officials said on Tuesday that the U.S. military targeted the MSF hospital in an airstrike last month because it mistook the building for a Taliban site from which fighters were firing at forces on the ground.

"The U.S. forces directly involved in this incident did not know the target compound was the MSF trauma center," Cambell said during a press conference Wednesday. "The medical facility was misidentified as a target by U.S. personnel who believed they were striking a different building several hundred meters away, where there were reports of combatants."

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Military personnel who were closely involved in the MSF hospital bombing have been suspended, but Campbell did not identify them further. MSF has said it believes the errant airstrike was a war crime and has asked for an independent investigation into the bombing. About 30 people died in the airstrike.

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"The report also determined that the personnel who requested the strike and those who executed it from the air did not undertake the appropriate measures to verify that the facility was a legitimate military target," Campbell added, saying the bombing was not intentional and that officials were "heartbroken" over the innocent lives lost.

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