- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 28, 2016

The Pentagon will levy a series of disciplinary actions against 16 U.S. service members for their role in a deadly attack against a Doctors Without Borders hospital in northern Afghanistan last October.

Gen. Joseph Votel, head of U.S. Central Command, is expected to announce details of the actions resulting from the command’s six-month inquiry into the attack Friday at the Pentagon, according to news reports.

The 16 found at fault include a two-star general, the crew of an Air Force AC-130 attack aircraft, and Army special forces personnel, the Los Angeles Times reported.

One officer was suspended from command and ordered out of Afghanistan. The other 15 were given lesser punishments: Six were sent to counseling, seven were issued letters of reprimand, and two were ordered to retraining courses, according to the Times.

An American AC-130 Spectre gunship fired repeatedly on the hospital located in the northern Afghanistan city of Kunduz in October, as U.S. and Afghan forces were battling back Taliban fighters who had sized the city days earlier.

The gunship reportedly made numerous attack runs over the hospital, strafing the building for nearly a half hour until hospital staff were able to contact the regional NATO headquarters in Mazar-i-Sharif to stop the attack.

Initial inquiries by U.S. commanders into the strike — which Doctors Without Borders said left 42 dead and scores wounded — claimed American forces had mistakenly targeted the hospital, thinking it was a Taliban fortification.

However, former U.S. intelligence officials told the Associated Press in October that that U.S special operations forces had been conducing surveillance on the hospital, suspecting it was a meeting point for Pakistani intelligence and Taliban leaders.

Gen. John Nicholson, the top U.S. officer in Afghanistan, traveled to Kunduz to personally issue an apology for the attack.

“I grieve with you for your loss and suffering; and humbly and respectfully ask for your forgiveness,” he said, according to a statement issued at the time by U.S. Forces-Afghanistan.

News of Gen. Votel’s announcement comes as Secretary of State John Kerry expressed outrage over a wave of airstrikes that struck another hospital backed by Doctors Without Borders in Syria on late Wednesday.

“The United Nations today assessed the situation in Aleppo to be catastrophic, and the regime’s most recent offensive actions there — despite the cessation of hostilities — compound the violence and undermine the cessation of hostilities,” Mr. Kerry said in a statement Thursday.

Six hospital staff and three children were among the 27 killed in the airstrikes in the Sukkari district of Aleppo in central Syria.

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