US commander says Afghans requested US airstrike in Kunduz

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WASHINGTON (AP) -- The U.S. airstrike that killed 22 at a medical clinic in northern Afghanistan over the weekend was requested by Afghan forces who reported being under Taliban fire, and was not sought by U.S. forces, the top commander of American and coalition forces in Afghanistan said Monday.

Gen. John F. Campbell made the statement at a hastily arranged Pentagon news conference. He said he was correcting an initial U.S. statement that said the airstrike had been in response to threats against U.S. forces.

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"We have now learned that on Oct. 3, Afghan forces advised that they were taking fire from enemy positions and asked for air support from U.S. forces," Campbell said. "An airstrike was then called to eliminate the Taliban threat and several civilians were accidentally struck. This is different from the initial reports which indicated that U.S. forces were threatened and that the airstrike was called on their behalf."

Photos from the devastating scene:

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US commander says Afghans requested US airstrike in Kunduz
Afghan security forces take a wounded civilian man to the hospital after Taliban fighter's attack, in Kunduz city, north of Kabul, Afghanistan, Saturday, Oct. 3, 2015. Three staff from Doctors Without Borders were killed and 30 were missing after an explosion near their hospital in the northern Afghan city of Kunduz that may have been caused by a U.S. airstrike. (AP Photo/Dehsabzi)
Afghan security forces inspect the site of a U.S. airstrike in Kunduz city, north of Kabul, Afghanistan, Friday, Oct. 2, 2015. The new leader of the Afghan Taliban says their capture of the northern city of Kunduz was a "symbolic victory" that showed the strength of the insurgency â even though the Taliban pulled out of the city after three days. (AP Photo)
BALKH, AFGHANISTAN - OCTOBER 04: A victim of the U.S. Airstrike on Doctors Without Borders Hospital in Kunduz, receives treatment at the Mazar-e-Sharif Regional Hospital in Balkh, Afghanistan on October 04, 2015. An Afghan health official said a U.S. air strike early Saturday morning in the northern city of Kunduz has killed and wounded dozens of people. (Photo by Sayed Khodaberdi Sadat/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
BALKH, AFGHANISTAN - OCTOBER 04: Victims of the U.S. Airstrike on Doctors Without Borders Hospital in Kunduz, receive treatment at the Mazar-e-Sharif Regional Hospital in Balkh, Afghanistan on October 04, 2015. An Afghan health official said a U.S. air strike early Saturday morning in the northern city of Kunduz has killed and wounded dozens of people. (Photo by Sayed Khodaberdi Sadat/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Afghan men pray alongside the coffins of civilians, allegedly killed in a NATO air strike, on the outskirts of Jalalabad in Nangarhar province on October 5, 2013. At least five civilians, including three children, were killed overnight in a NATO airstrike in eastern Afghanistan, officials said. The civilians, aged between 12 and 20, were killed while they were out hunting birds in the area of Saracha, a few kilometres from Jalalabad city, the capital of eastern Nangarhar province, provincial police spokesman Hazrat Hussain Mashreqiwal told AFP. AFP PHOTO/ Noorullah SHIRZADA (Photo credit should read Noorullah Shirzada/AFP/Getty Images)
Afghan men carry the coffin of a civilian, allegedly killed in a NATO air strike, on the outskirts of Jalalabad in Nangarhar province on October 5, 2013. At least five civilians, including three children, were killed overnight in a NATO airstrike in eastern Afghanistan, officials said. The civilians, aged between 12 and 20, were killed while they were out hunting birds in the area of Saracha, a few kilometres from Jalalabad city, the capital of eastern Nangarhar province, provincial police spokesman Hazrat Hussain Mashreqiwal told AFP. AFP PHOTO/ Noorullah SHIRZADA (Photo credit should read Noorullah Shirzada/AFP/Getty Images)
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His revised account does not clarify whether the clinic was targeted in error or whether other mistakes may have been made by U.S. forces.

"If errors were committed we will acknowledge them," Campbell said.

U.S. Gen. Campbell: Kunduz Airstrike 'Tragic'

He declined to provide more details, saying a military investigation is ongoing. He said he learned from the investigator that it was the Afghans, not the Americans, who requested the airstrike.

Campbell, whose headquarters is in Kabul, was in Washington on Monday because he is testifying before two congressional committees this week.

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