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The Dutch ministry will not appeal against the illegal ruling on the Afghan airstrike


THE HAGUE, Netherlands — The Dutch government said on Friday it will not appeal a court ruling that Dutch troops unlawfully bombed a residential complex in Afghanistan in 2007, killing some 20 civilians, in a civil case brought by four survivors.

The court in The Hague ruled in November that the nightly attack was in violation of international humanitarian law. The court sided with four survivors of the attack who sued the Dutch state for damages.

The Defense Ministry argued that buildings were being used by Taliban fighters when the military hit the walled compound, known as a “quala”, with munitions fired from attack helicopters and F-16s.

At the time, the Dutch were part of the US-led coalition in Afghanistan, fighting the Taliban in a battle for control of the Chora Valley, some 500 kilometers (310 mi) southwest of the capital, Kabul.

However, some 12 hours had passed since the Taliban last used the site as a firing position when the bombing took place, and judges concluded that the military did not have enough information to designate the compound as a military target.

Defense Minister Kajsa Ollongren said in a letter to lawmakers on Friday that 15 years after the attack, the ministry has “no further or additional information to substantiate that the quala was a military target at the time”.

“The State is therefore not going to appeal. The State will comply with the court’s decision by proceeding to pay compensation. The extent of the damage has yet to be determined,” she wrote.

Liesbeth Zegveld, the Dutch lawyer who represented the survivors in court, said she informed them through an intermediary in Afghanistan and that they were relieved about the government’s decision.

Ollongren said in her letter to parliament that her thoughts were “with the civilian victims of the Taliban attack on the Chora Valley and their loved ones. And to those who lost their lives protecting the civilian population during the defense of Chora, including a Dutch soldier, his relatives and comrades.”

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