Lethal Nato bombing details leaked

A deadly airstrike in Afghanistan’ s Kunduz province last September did not comply with Nato’s rules of engagement, according to the military organisation’ s own investigators.

In a leaked document published by the German newspaper Der Spiegel this week, it was revealed that crucial information was withheld from US pilots by the German military, who ordered the attack that killed scores of Afghan civilians.

The newspaper says Nato investigators looking into the September 4 bombing, which claimed 142 lives, found that US fighter pilots were inappropriately ordered to attack two fuel tankers that had been hijacked by the Taliban in northern Kunduz.

Civilians from the nearby village of Omarkhail were collecting fuel from the tankers when Nato jets were ordered to drop two 500 pound bombs on the lorries.

‘Going kinetic’

One of the US F-15 pilots, whose name has not been released but has been referred to as Dude 15, told Nato investigators later that he “had an uneasy feeling about everything”.

“Both of us could tell the ground commander was really pushing to go kinetic,” he said, using a military slang term for the release of bombs on a target.

Reports now say that the German commander on the ground withheld vital information from the pilots of the US jets before they dropped their bombs.

Der Spiegel obtained a secret Nato report on the incident, saying that Germany’s army knewat the time of the bombing at least one of the drivers of the hijacked tankers was still alive and at the scene.

When questioned, pilots were told all individuals on the ground were “insurgents” .

The classified report also stated that new Nato rules of engagement to limit civilian casualties were ignored by the German commanders.

‘Defeat ourselves’

Just four days before the deadly bombing, General Stanley McChrystal, the senior US and Nato commander in Afghanistan, sent an assessment to Robert Gates, the US defence secretary, saying that “we run the risk of strategic defeat by pursuing tactical wins that cause civilian casualties or unnecessary collateral damage”.

“The insurgents cannot defeat us militarily but we can defeat ourselves.”

“I lost six men from my family … we have nothing left but our memories. We cry for them and the children cry for food”

Bibi Sharifa, villager from Omarkhail in Kunduz, Afghanistan Read more of this post

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