Afghan DM Defends Requesting US Attack on MSF Hospital Full of Civilians

Reiterates Claims It Was a 'Taliban Base'

Afghan Defense Minister Masoom Stanekzai appears to be a few days behind the Pentagon on the ever-changing narrative surrounding the US attack on the Doctors Without Borders (MSF) hospital outside of Kunduz, Afghanistan, an attack which killed 22 civilians and fueled calls for a war crimes investigation.

In a new interview with the Associated Press, Stanekzai reiterated already discredited claims that the hospital was “a Taliban base,” saying the Taliban were using the site as a “safe place because everyone knows our security forces and international security forces” would never attack a hospital. So Afghan officials ordered an attack on the hospital anyhow, and the US attacked it.

MSF has never denied treating wounded Taliban, as virtually all aid groups do, but insists no weapons were allowed within the compound, and no firing was coming from the compound the night of the attack. The US appears to have backed up that claim, and has also confirmed that even if there had been gunfire from the site, the hospital was “restricted” and could not have been legitimately attacked under any circumstances.

MSF insists that the attack was deliberate, and while the Pentagon has changed their story several times the Afghan officials who ordered the strike seem to confirm that it was a deliberate attack on a known hospital, which US troops were engaged in surveillance against at the time.

Stanekzai also gave lip-service to rumors of a Pakistani spy being inside the hospital at the time of the attack, suggesting that the site may have been a “Pakistani ISI base” as opposed to a Taliban base, suggesting he was a little vague on what he was actually alleging.

MSF says none of their staff were from Pakistan, and they have no evidence any of the patients were either. US officials have suggested a single “target” within the hospital wouldn’t have justified the attack at any rate, which is only adding to questions about the incident.

Stanekzai seems to be following the long-standing playbook of the Afghan government, which is to never admit wrongdoing, and to stick to any story, no matter how uncredible it becomes. With the US having been brought into the center of this one, and engaging in their own questionable efforts at damage control, the farce is only growing, and along with it, support for an independent investigation, which is likely the only way any truth is going to come out of this fiasco.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.