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US forces may have violated laws of war, says rights group

US forces may have violated laws of war, says rights group

Oct 04, 2015 - 11:32

KABULinfo-icon (Pajhwok): The failure of US forces to stop an attack on a Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) hospital in Kunduz City strongly suggests the forces may have violated the laws of war in identifying risks to civilians and, a rights group said on Sunday.

The New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) called for an impartial and transparent investigation into the incident to establish the circumstances of the attack. It also urged the US to review its targeting procedures. 

International humanitarian law or the laws of war applied to all sides in the fighting in Afghanistaninfo-icon, the group said. The laws of war require the parties to take constant care during military operations to spare the civilian population. 

“The bombing of the hospital is a shocking development for Kunduz, where civilians and aid workers are already at grave risk from the fighting,” said Patricia Gossman, senior researcher at HRW. “All forces are obligated to do their utmost to avoid causing civilian harm.”

Given the hospital’s protected status and the large numbers of civilians and medical personnel in the facility, attacking it would likely have been an unlawfully disproportionate attack, a statement from the organisation said.

Under the laws of war, even if military forces misuse a hospital to deploy able-bodied combatants or weapons, the attacking force must issue a warning to cease this misuse, setting a reasonable time limit for it to end.

The location of the MSF medical facility had been communicated to all parties, including US forces, months before the fighting in Kunduz began. The bombing continued for 30 minutes after US and Afghan military officials in Kabul and Washington had been informed of the first attack’s proximity to the hospital.


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