NATO Commander Backs Independent Investigation Into Hospital Attack

Doctors Without Borders Seek Geneva Signatory Sponsor for Probe

NATO Supreme Commander Gen. Philip Breedlove a top US Air Force general, became the first high-profile official to back a call by Doctors Without Borders for an independent investigation into last weekend’s US attack on a Doctors Without Borders hospital in northern Afghanistan, a strike which killed 22.

Gen. Breedlove told interviewers that Doctors Without Borders had every right to ask for the International Humanitarian Fact-Finding Commission (IHFFC), set up by the Geneva Conventions, to conduct such an investigation, adding that he and NATO are “going to support it.”

The actual investigation may not be so easy, however, as the IHFFC was called for in 1949, established in 1991, and so far hasn’t actually done anything. For the IHFFC to actually be empowered to investigate, some Geneva signatory would actually have to sponsor the call for the probe, and so far there’s been no indication any such request is forthcoming.

Despite Gen. Breedlove’s comments, most signatories would likely fear diplomatic retaliation from the US if they did sponsor such an inquiry, and very few are liable to be willing to take that sort of risk over a US strike on a hospital, particularly when the US continues to tout its own internal inquiry into the matter.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is senior editor of