US military official says hospital airstrike was a mistake

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Gen. Campbell: US Strike on Hospital a Mistake

General John Campbell, the commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, admitted that the airstrike targeting a Doctors Without Borders hospital in Afghanistan this weekend was a mistake authorized "within the U.S. chain of command."

"A hospital was mistakenly struck," he told the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday.

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Campbell said that Afghan forces had requested the strike in the northern city of Kunduz, reporting that they were under fire from the Taliban, which took over the city for the first time since 2001 last week. A counteroffensive from Afghani forces this weekend shrank some of the Taliban's gains, but troops are still struggling to maintain a hold on the city.

More from the attack:

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U.S. airstrike on Doctors Without Borders hospital in Afghanistan
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US military official says hospital airstrike was a mistake
FILE - In this Oct. 16, 2015, file photo, an employee of Doctors Without Borders stands inside the charred remains of their hospital after it was hit by a U.S. airstrike in Kunduz, Afghanistan. Russian airstrikes have reportedly hit at least a half dozen medical facilities in Syria, according to activists. In Yemen, an airstrike by the Saudi-led coalition hit a hospital run by Doctors Without Borders. Still, apart from rights groups condemnations, thereÂs been little international outcry, in contrast to a U.S. strike on a hospital in Afghanistan that killed 30 people. (Najim Rahim via AP, File)
The Doctors Without Borders hospital is seen in flames, after explosions in the northern Afghan city of Kunduz, Saturday, Oct. 3, 2015. Doctors Without Borders announced that the death toll from the bombing of the group's Kunduz hospital compound has risen to at least 16, including 3 children and that tens are missing after the explosions that may have been caused by a U.S. airstrike. In a statement, the international charity said the "sustained bombing" took place at 2:10 a.m. (21:40 GMT). Afghan forces backed by U.S. airstrikes have been fighting to dislodge Taliban insurgents who overran Kunduz on Monday. (Médecins Sans Frontières via AP)
The Doctors Without Borders trauma center is seen in flames, after an explosion near their hospital in the northern Afghan city of Kunduz . Doctors Without Borders announced that the death toll from the bombing of the group's Kunduz hospital compound has risen to at least 16, including 3 children and that tens are missing after the explosions that may have been caused by a U.S. airstrike. In a statement, the international charity said the "sustained bombing" took place at 2:10 a.m. (2140 GMT). Afghan forces backed by U.S. airstrikes have been fighting to dislodge Taliban insurgents who overran Kunduz on Monday. (Médecins Sans Frontières via AP)
The Doctors Without Borders trauma center is seen in flames, after an explosion near their hospital in the northern Afghan city of Kunduz . Doctors Without Borders announced that the death toll from the bombing of the group's Kunduz hospital compound has risen to at least 16, including 3 children and that tens are missing after the explosions that may have been caused by a U.S. airstrike. In a statement, the international charity said the "sustained bombing" took place at 2:10 a.m. (2140 GMT). Afghan forces backed by U.S. airstrikes have been fighting to dislodge Taliban insurgents who overran Kunduz on Monday. (Médecins Sans Frontières via AP)
In this Friday, Oct. 16, 2015 photo, the charred remains of the Doctors Without Borders hospital is seen after being hit by a U.S. airstrike in Kunduz, Afghanistan. Christopher Stokes, general director of Doctors Without Borders, which is also known by its French abbreviation MSF, whose hospital in northern Afghanistan was destroyed in a U.S. airstrike, says the Âextensive, quite precise destruction of the bombing raid casts doubt on American military assertions that it was a mistake. (Najim Rahim via AP)
In this Friday, Oct. 16, 2015 photo, the charred remains of the Doctors Without Borders hospital is seen after being hit by a U.S. airstrike in Kunduz, Afghanistan. The head of Doctors Without Borders, which is also known by its French abbreviation MSF whose hospital in northern Afghanistan was destroyed in a U.S. airstrike says the Âextensive, quite precise destruction of the bombing raid casts doubt on American military assertions that it was a mistake. (Najim Rahim via AP)
Afghan employees of a Doctors Without Borders hospital move debris of its damaged gate in Kunduz, Afghanistan, Thursday, Oct. 15, 2015. Taliban fighters took control of the key northern city late last month, leading to a protracted battle with Afghan forces supported by U.S. airstrikes. During the fighting, a U.S. air attack hit the hospital, killing at least 12 Doctors Without Borders staff and 10 patients. (AP Photo/Najim Rahim)
FILE - In this Oct. 16, 2015 file photo, the charred remains of the Doctors Without Borders hospital is seen after it was hit by a U.S. airstrike in Kunduz, Afghanistan. The Army Green Berets who called in the deadly strike on the Doctors without Borders trauma center in Afghanistan were aware it was a functioning hospital but believed it was under Taliban control, raising questions about whether the air strike violated international law.. (Najim Rahim via AP)
In this Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2015 photo, the charred remains of the Doctors Without Borders hospital is seen after being hit by a U.S. airstrike in Kunduz, Afghanistan. The attack, which killed a number of hospital staff and patients, was intended to back up Afghan forces fighting to dislodge Taliban insurgents who overran the strategic city earlier in the month. (Najim Rahim via AP)
In this Friday, Oct. 16, 2015 photo, an employee of the Doctors Without Borders walks inside the charred remains of their hospital after it was hit by a U.S. airstrike in Kunduz, Afghanistan. Christopher Stokes, general director of Doctors Without Borders, which is also known by its French abbreviation MSF, whose hospital in northern Afghanistan was destroyed in a U.S. airstrike, says the Âextensive, quite precise destruction of the bombing raid casts doubt on American military assertions that it was a mistake. (Najim Rahim via AP)
In this Friday, Oct. 16, 2015 photo, Christopher Stokes, the general director of the medical charity, Doctors Without Borders, which is also known by its French abbreviation MSF, stands near the charred remains of the organizations' hospital, after it was hit by a U.S. airstrike in Kunduz, Afghanistan. Stokes says the Âextensive, quite precise destruction of the bombing raid casts doubt on American military assertions that it was a mistake. (Najim Rahim via AP)
In this Friday, Oct. 16, 2015 photo, the charred remains of the Doctors Without Borders hospital is seen after being hit by a U.S. airstrike in Kunduz, Afghanistan. The head of Doctors Without Borders, which is also known by its French abbreviation MSF, whose hospital in northern Afghanistan was destroyed in a U.S. airstrike says the extensive, quite precise destruction of the bombing raid casts doubt on American military assertions that it was a mistake. (Najim Rahim via AP)
FILE -In this Oct. 14, 2015 file photo, the charred remains of the Doctors Without Borders hospital is seen after being hit by a U.S. airstrike in Kunduz, Afghanistan. The Army Green Berets who called in the deadly strike on the Doctors without Borders trauma center in Afghanistan were aware it was a functioning hospital but believed it was under Taliban control, raising questions about whether the air strike violated international law. (Najim Rahim via AP)
FILE -- In this Oct. 15, 2015 file photo, Christopher Stokes, the general director of medical charity Doctors Without Borders, which is also known by its French abbreviation MSF, stands at the gate of the organization's hospital, after it was hit by a U.S. airstrike in Kunduz, Afghanistan. Russian airstrikes have reportedly hit at least a half dozen medical facilities in Syria, according to activists. In Yemen, an airstrike by the Saudi-led coalition hit a hospital run by Doctors Without Borders. Still, apart from rights groups condemnations, theres been little international outcry, in contrast to a U.S. strike on a hospital in Afghanistan that killed 30 people. (Najim Rahim via AP, File)
Injured Doctors Without Borders staff are seen after an explosion near their hospital in the northern Afghan city of Kunduz, Saturday, Oct. 3, 2015. Doctors Without Borders announced that the death toll from the bombing of the group's Kunduz hospital compound has risen to at least 16, including 3 children and that tens are missing after the explosions that may have been caused by a U.S. airstrike. In a statement, the international charity said the "sustained bombing" took place at 2:10 a.m. (2140 GMT). Afghan forces backed by U.S. airstrikes have been fighting to dislodge Taliban insurgents who overran Kunduz on Monday. (Médecins Sans Frontières via AP)
U.S. Forces-Afghanistan Resolute Support Mission Commander Gen. John Campbell pauses as he testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2015, before the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on the Situation in Afghanistan. U.S. forces attacked a hospital in northern Afghanistan last weekend, killing at least 22 people, despite "rigorous" U.S. military procedures designed to avoid such mistakes, the top commander of U.S. and allied forces in Afghanistan said Tuesday. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
The burnt Doctors Without Borders hospital is seen after an explosion in the northern Afghan city of Kunduz, Saturday, Oct. 3, 2015. Doctors Without Borders announced that the death toll from the bombing of the group's Kunduz hospital compound has risen to at least 16, including 3 children and that tens are missing after the explosions that may have been caused by a U.S. airstrike. In a statement, the international charity said the "sustained bombing" took place at 2:10 a.m. (21:40 GMT). Afghan forces backed by U.S. airstrikes have been fighting to dislodge Taliban insurgents who overran Kunduz on Monday. (Médecins Sans Frontières via AP)
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)
U.S. Forces-Afghanistan Resolute Support Mission Commander Gen. John Campbell testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2015, before the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on the Situation in Afghanistan. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
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He added that U.S Special Operations Forces "were in close vicinity" to the hospital at the time of the attack and were in communication with the aircraft that attacked the building.

At least 22 Afghanis were killed in the strike -- 12 medical workers and at least ten patients. Doctors Without Borders called the strike a "war crime" and is now withdrawing from the region. "The U.S. hit a huge hospital full of wounded patients and MSF staff," Doctors Without Borders director Christopher Stokes said in a statement. "The U.S. military remains responsible for the targets it hits, even though it is part of a coalition. There can be no justification for this horrible attack."

The Pentagon is investigating the airstrike and reaching out to medical personnel who survived the strike for more information. "I am sure that the investigations will be thorough, objective, and transparent," Campbell said.

On Monday, after a weekend without many answers -- or at least with conflicting ones -- Campbell said that "Afghan forces advised that they were taking fire from enemy positions and asked for air support from U.S. forces. An airstrike was then called to eliminate the Taliban threat, and several civilians were accidentally struck."

The top general was scheduled to answer the Senate committee's questions about accusations of sexual abuse in Afghanistan on Tuesday, although much of that time was reallocated to discussing the airstrike, at least at the beginning of the hearing. Campbell was also asked about the plan to withdraw all U.S. troops from Afghanistan by 2016 -- 15 years after the war started and before Obama leaves office. The general said that plan may need to be reconsidered, and that "strategic patience" is necessary -- meaning that military officials might want troops to stay in Afghanistan through the beginning of another presidency. "Based on conditions on the ground I do believe we have to provide senior leaders with options different than the current plan we are going with," Campbell said on Tuesday.

NATO allies are meeting on Thursday in Brussels, and the future of the coalition in Afghanistan will surely be one of the big topics discussed -- and heavily debated.

Related: A history of conflict in Kunduz:

14 PHOTOS
Taliban capture Kunduz - history of fighting in Kunduz, Afghanistan
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US military official says hospital airstrike was a mistake
In this Thursday, May 21, 2015 photo, an Afghan refugee girl walks with her goat at a camp on the outskirts of Kunduz province, north of Kabul, Afghanistan. When the Taliban descended a month ago on Dam Shakh, a hamlet on the wheat-growing plains of northern Afghanistanâs Kunduz province, nobody was prepared. By the time they were beaten back for the provincial capital of Kunduz, more than 100,000 people were forced from their homes and total of 204 war-wounded were admitted to Kunduzâs only trauma hospital, run by French NGO Medecins Sans Frontieres in less than a month. (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul)
Smoke rises from a police station during clashes between Taliban fighters and Afghan security forces, in Kunduz city, north of Kabul, Afghanistan, Monday, Sept. 28, 2015. An Afghan official said on Monday that hundreds of Taliban fighters launched an early morning attack on a strategic northern city, storming it from several directions. (AP Photo)
Taliban fighters take their positions after occupying a police station for several hours, in Kunduz city, north of Kabul, Afghanistan, Monday, Sept. 28, 2015. An Afghan official said on Monday that hundreds of Taliban fighters launched an early morning attack on a strategic northern city, storming it from several directions. (AP Photo)
Sediq Sediqi, spokesman for the Afghan interior ministry gives a press conference at the interior ministry in Kabul, Afghanistan, Monday, Sept. 28, 2015. Hundreds of Taliban fighters have launched a new attack on Kunduz, a strategic northern city, storming it from several directions Afghan officials said. Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid claimed responsibility for the Kunduz attack on his Twitter account. Afghan officials say the Taliban have joined forces across northern Afghanistan with other regional insurgent groups as they have spread their fight against the government to the previously peaceful region. (AP Photo/Massoud Hossaini)
Afghan National Army soldiers fire artillery during a battle with Taliban insurgents in the Chahardara district of Kunduz province northern of Kabul, Afghanistan, Sunday, May 3, 2015. Afghan officials say fierce fighting between government forces and Taliban insurgents in northern Afghanistan has forced thousands of people to flee their homes. Meher Khuda Sabar, an official in the Refugee and Repatriation Ministry, said Sunday around 2,000 families have been displaced since the Taliban launched a surprise attack near the city of Kunduz nine days ago. (AP Photo/Bashir Khan Safi)
In this Thursday, May 21, 2015 photo, an Afghan villager checks a building torched by Taliban fighters at Talawka village in Kunduz province, north of Kabul, Afghanistan. Fighting has been raging in Kunduz for more than a month. Pushed back by army reinforcements that arrived days after the assault began, insurgents now occupy villages in Gor Tepa, 15 kilometers (12 miles) from the provincial capital, also called Kunduz. (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul)
In this Friday, May 22, 2015 photo, Afghan police patrol on the outskirts of Kunduz, north of Kabul, Afghanistan. Fighting has been raging in Kunduz for more than a month. Pushed back by army reinforcements that arrived days after the assault began, insurgents now occupy villages in Gor Tepa, 15 kilometers (12 miles) from the provincial capital, also called Kunduz. (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul)
An Afghan security force aim his weapon during a battle with Taliban insurgents in the Chahardara district of Kunduz province northern of Kabul, Afghanistan, Sunday, May 3, 2015. Afghan officials say fierce fighting between government forces and Taliban insurgents in northern Afghanistan has forced thousands of people to flee their homes. Meher Khuda Sabar, an official in the Refugee and Repatriation Ministry, said Sunday around 2,000 families have been displaced since the Taliban launched a surprise attack near the city of Kunduz nine days ago. (AP Photo/Bashir Khan Safi)
Clouds gather as precipitation falls over the Hindu Kush mountains during a flight between Kabul and Kunduz on April 30, 2015. AFP PHOTO / SHAH Marai (Photo credit should read SHAH MARAI/AFP/Getty Images)
KUNDUZ, AFGHANISTAN - MAY 7: Afghan security forces are seen as the clashes between Afghan security forces and Taliban militants continue in Kunduz province of northern Afghanistan on May 7, 2015. The death toll rises to 175 in clashes between Taliban militants and security forces that began two weeks earlier in Afghanistan's northern province of Kunduz. (Photo by Police Department/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
KUNDUZ, AFGHANISTAN - MAY 7: Afghan security forces are seen as the clashes between Afghan security forces and Taliban militants continue in Kunduz province of northern Afghanistan on May 7, 2015. The death toll rises to 175 in clashes between Taliban militants and security forces that began two weeks earlier in Afghanistan's northern province of Kunduz. (Photo by Police Department/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Afghan security force personel patrol in Kunduz on April 30, 2015. Intense fighting flared in northern Afghanistan as security forces battled Taliban insurgents advancing on April 28 on a major provincial capital, officials said, with terrified residents fearing the fall of the besieged city. Hundreds of militants closed in on Kunduz city after attacking outlying police and army checkposts on April 24, just hours after the Taliban launched their annual spring offensive. AFP PHOTO / SHAH Marai (Photo credit should read SHAH MARAI/AFP/Getty Images)
An Afghan security force personel keeps watch during a patrol in Kunduz on April 30, 2015. Intense fighting flared in northern Afghanistan as security forces battled Taliban insurgents advancing on April 28 on a major provincial capital, officials said, with terrified residents fearing the fall of the besieged city. Hundreds of militants closed in on Kunduz city after attacking outlying police and army checkposts on April 24, just hours after the Taliban launched their annual spring offensive. AFP PHOTO / SHAH Marai (Photo credit should read SHAH MARAI/AFP/Getty Images)
An Afghan security force personel stops journalists from taking photographs in Kunduz on April 30, 2015. Intense fighting flared in northern Afghanistan as security forces battled Taliban insurgents advancing on April 28 on a major provincial capital, officials said, with terrified residents fearing the fall of the besieged city. Hundreds of militants closed in on Kunduz city after attacking outlying police and army checkposts on April 24, just hours after the Taliban launched their annual spring offensive. AFP PHOTO / SHAH Marai (Photo credit should read SHAH MARAI/AFP/Getty Images)
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