US Analysts Were Gathering Intel on Afghan Hospital for Suspected Taliban Activity

Afghan security forces Saturday
Afghan security forces Saturday / AP

U.S. special operations analysts were analyzing a hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan, days before it was destroyed in an airstrike amid suspicions it was the site of a Pakistani operative helping the Taliban organize.

It remains unknown whether the U.S. commanders who launched the airstrike knew the target was a hospital.

The Associated Press reported:

The special operations analysts had assembled a dossier that included maps with the hospital circled, along with indications that intelligence agencies were tracking the location of the Pakistani operative and activity reports based on overhead surveillance, according to a former intelligence official who is familiar with some of the documents describing the site. The intelligence suggested the hospital was being used as a Taliban command and control center and may have housed heavy weapons. After the attack—which came amidst a battle to retake the northern Afghan city of Kunduz from the Taliban—some U.S. analysts assessed that the strike had been justified, the former officer says. They concluded that the Pakistani, believed to have been working for his country's Inter-Service Intelligence directorate, had been killed.

The airstrike, which was ordered by Afghan forces on Oct. 3, killed 22 people at the medical facility run by Doctors Without Borders, or Médecins Sans Frontières. The charity has harshly blamed the U.S. for the incident, calling it a war crime.

Gen. John Campbell, commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, said days after that the U.S. "mistakenly" launched the airstrike and confirmed that the U.S. chain of command approved it.

The Pentagon initially said that the airstrike was launched to protect U.S. troops. Afghan forces claimed that Taliban fighters were firing at them from the hospital’s grounds.

The Pentagon is currently conducting an investigation into the incident.