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Wed Oct 7, 2015, 03:04 PM

A question about the bombing of the MSF hospital in Afghanistan

I asked this in another thread and did not get a response.

First, please know that I am a huge supporter of MSF. The questions I'm asking are to fill a gap in my knowledge. Because this part of the story makes no sense to me.

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Was the MSF facility marked as a hospital? Presumably, in Afghanistan that would have been with a large red crescent symbol, visible from the air. I have seen nothing in any article that I've read (admittedly not a large percentage of what's out there) that indicates the facility was clearly marked, or not.

If it was, why did the pilot bomb it anyway? If it was visibly marked as a hospital, he should have known that any order to bomb that site was an illegal order, and should have responded along the lines of, "negative, the site is marked as a hospital, we can't bomb a hospital". According to my understanding of the laws of war, anyway.

It is wasn't, why wasn't it? Okay, here is where it gets fuzzy for me. Again, by my understanding of the laws of war - which may be completely wrong of course - if a medical facility is marked by a universally recognized symbol such as a red cross or a red crescent, then if a faction attacks it they are violating the laws of war. (Geneva Convention?) But if it is NOT marked, how does it expect that protection? For all that has been posted about "they told the US their coordinates" that STILL does not make it easy for a pilot to recognize while flying a mission. And that visible recognition would be the final protection in case of human error in providing target coordinates. So I wouldn't think that the new technology of GPS would make the need for marking obsolete. On the other hand, some of these groups we're fighting with allegedly ignore the laws of war anyway, and who knows might even deliberately target a hospital if it is so marked. So maybe there are good reasons why hospitals aren't marked any more, or just this particular hospital wasn't marked?


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I appreciate any thoughtful, informed replies and discussion on this topic.

(I will only be able to check in off and on but I will read all replies when I can.)

10 replies, 1873 views

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Response to MH1 (Original post)

Wed Oct 7, 2015, 03:09 PM

1. US alters story for fourth time in four days

 





Campbell did not explain whether the procedures to launch the airstrike took into account the GPS coordinates of the MSF field hospital, which its president, Joanne Liu, said were “regularly shared” with US, coalition and Afghan military officers and civilian officials, “as recently as Tuesday 29 September”.

AC-130 gunships, which fly low, typically rely on a pilot visually identifying a target.




Link --> Doctors Without Borders airstrike: US alters story for fourth time in four days




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Response to Mika (Reply #1)

Wed Oct 7, 2015, 03:43 PM

3. The continued absence of any claim that the facility "was clearly marked"

STRONGLY suggests that it was not.

How the fuck is a pilot supposed to know he is hitting a hospital, if it is not visibly marked as such?

I am NOT absolving the US military command AT ALL. Yes, they had the information and should have figured it out, and reports are that it was communicated to them ("them" meaning, someone in US military) during the attack. However, I don't know why anyone would rely - for their lives !! - on the information being communicated TO THE PILOT. WHY was the hospital not marked??

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Response to MH1 (Reply #3)

Wed Oct 7, 2015, 04:50 PM

10. When 1st bombs hit, medical staff immediately phoned NATO HQ to report the strike. Strikes continued

 




U.S./NATO forces carried out the airstrike at about 2 a.m. on October 3rd. Doctors Without Borders had already notified the U.S., NATO and Afghan forces of their geographical coordinates to clarify that their compound, the size of a football field, was a hospital. When the first bombs hit, medical staff immediately phoned NATO headquarters to report the strike on its facility, and yet strikes continued, at 15 minute intervals, until 3:15 a.m., killing 22 people. 12 of the dead were medical staff; ten were patients, and three of the patients were children. At least 37 more people were injured. One survivor said that the first section of the hospital to be hit was the Intensive Care Unit.




Link --> https://www.laprogressive.com/doctors-without-borders-hospital-bombed/


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Response to Mika (Reply #1)

Wed Oct 7, 2015, 03:52 PM

7. First reports are often in error. Correcting errors is "altering the story"?

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Response to MH1 (Original post)

Wed Oct 7, 2015, 03:43 PM

2. I think not marking the building with a red cross/crescent on the roof was a big mistake...

...which contributed to the bombing of the building.
If it had been the pilot/gunner's in the AC-130 would have questioned the target and that would have made it upstairs and the target would have been most likely scrubbed. Unless the Afghans story of receiving RPG fire from the compound is true, then they may have been given the green light if US forces were under fire.

(btw I've seen no evidence that it was so marked)

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Response to EX500rider (Reply #2)

Wed Oct 7, 2015, 03:46 PM

4. Thank you!! I am just trying to understand this.

It makes no sense to me so I want to believe I am missing information.

In any case, based on what I know today, I think it is kind of tough on the pilot, if they had no way to know that the building was a hospital. If someone was supposed to communicate to the pilot and call off the attack and that person did not, then it's on them - but the pilot has to bear this on his soul forever anyway.

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Response to MH1 (Reply #4)

Wed Oct 7, 2015, 03:50 PM

5. Especially necessary to mark the buildings in Afghanistan where in....

....most of the towns, everything is built from the same mud bricks and everything looks the same from the air.

Kunduz from the air:

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Response to MH1 (Original post)

Wed Oct 7, 2015, 03:51 PM

6. It happened at 2 AM, so it was dark

Would the gunship have seen any markings on the roof?

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Response to MH1 (Original post)

Wed Oct 7, 2015, 04:03 PM

8. It was war crime and those perptrating and/or ordering should be held accountable.

 

“What difference does it make to the dead, the orphans and the homeless, whether the mad destruction is wrought under the name of totalitarianism or in the holy name of liberty or democracy?” Gandhi

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Response to MH1 (Original post)

Wed Oct 7, 2015, 04:06 PM

9. This will answer some of your questions

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/10/05/how-a-u-s-gunship-slaughtered-doctors.html


Pay no attention to the tinfoil nutbars claiming we intentionally attacked a high-profile medical organization just for the hell of it

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