Sen. John McCain on Sunday blamed the airstrike that killed 22 people in an Afghan hospital run by the medical charity Doctors without Borders on the “fog of war” and the Obama administration’s withdraw of U.S. troops from the war zone.
“We call it fog of war, unfortunately. And it’s a tragedy, and our thoughts and prayers go out to them,” Mr. McCain, a former Navy fighter pilot in the Vietnam War who now chairs the Senate Armed Services Committee, said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
He said that the tragedy likely would have been avoided if U.S. troops were on the ground with someone radioing instructions to helicopter gunships that purportedly carried out the attack.
“If we had had a forward air controller, it very most likely would not have happened. And this is also a result of our withdrawal,” said Mr. McCain, Arizona Republican.
The Pentagon has opened an investigation into Saturday’s airstrike that hit the hospital in Kunduz, a city in northern Afghanistan that last week was briefly seized by Taliban fighters before being retaken by government forces.
The airstrike killed 22 people in the hospital, including 12 staffers from Doctors Without Borders.
The medical charity blames the U.S. military for the attack. Afghan officials said helicopter gunships returned fire from Taliban fighters who were hiding in the facility.
Doctors Without Borders denied that Taliban militants were in the hospital. The group announced Sunday that it was withdrawing from Kunduz.