The decision to carry out a deadly air strike that hit a hospital in the Afghan provincial capital of Kunduz was made within the U.S. chain of command, the American commander of international forces in Afghanistan told lawmakers on Tuesday.
On Saturday, an Afghan hospital run by the medical charity Doctors Without Borders, or Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), was hit by an air strike that killed 22 people. MSF officials have demanded an independent investigation into the incident and called it a "war crime."
U.S. forces provided close air support to Afghan forces engaged in a fight with Taliban militants in Kunduz on Saturday at their request, U.S. Army General John Campbell said in testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee.
"To be clear, the decision to provide aerial fires was a U.S. decision made within the U.S. chain of command," Campbell said. "A hospital was mistakenly struck. We would never intentionally target a protected medical facility."
Campbell said he has directed forces under his command to undergo in-depth training to review operational authorities and rules of engagement to prevent further incidents like Kunduz.
Campbell said he would not disclose what recommendations he had made for U.S. force levels in Afghanistan going forward.