A leading Nato general has been forced to resign after an air raid that killed dozens of Afghan civilians. Wolfgang Schneiderhan, the Inspector-General of the German Army, is the first top Nato commander to resign over a botched operation in Afghanistan. His departure came after politically embarrassing video footage of the German-ordered airstrike was made public. The scandal raises questions about Germanys willingness to support President Obamas drive to reinforce troops in the region and highlights the countrys increasingly nervous strategy towards Afghanistan its first big overseas deployment since the Second World War. The resignation, together with that of a junior defence minister, which was in effect a dismissal, was announced to the German parliament yesterday by Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, the Defence Minister. Images from the airstrike, taken from a US F15 fighter, show a large number of people gathered around two petrol lorries hijacked by Taleban fighters in September. The people were locals siphoning petrol from the tankers. Yet Franz Josef Jung, then the Defence Minister, played down the possibility of civilian casualties, fearing that it would undermine public support for the Afghan mission. In a parliament debate yesterday, the former Defence Minister was branded a liar. The Chancellor should dismiss Jung [now Employment Minister] without further ado, said Paul Schfer, a defence expert belonging to Die Linke, a leftist opposition party. Such a minister is either dishonourable or incompetent. To protect Mr Jungs government position he is a Christian Democrat ally of Angela Merkel, the Chancellor two people had to be dismissed. The first was Inspector-General Schneiderhan and the second was Peter Wichert, the State Secretary [junior minister] in the Defence Ministry. The resignations were demanded by Baron zu Guttenberg yesterday morning, soon after he saw Bild Zeitung. The video footage and details of an investigation carried out by the German military police had been leaked to the newspaper to influence the parliamentary debate on extending Germanys 4,500 troop presence in Afghanistan. The leak may also have been designed to stiffen resistance to President Obamas demand for 10,000 more troops from Nato allies. The German mandate is likely to be extended despite protests from the benches of Die Linke and the Greens. Some deputies held up the pictures, others shouted from the back benches for the resignation of Mr Jung. He denied that he had misled parliament deliberately. I said clearly from the beginning in particular on September 6, two days after the incident that we could not rule out that there had been civilian casualties, Mr Jung said. Although this is correct, he suggested at the time that there was still doubt, and was slow in offering an apology. According to a Nato inquiry, as many as 142 insurgents and civilians were killed. The number of dead civilians is still in dispute. During the debate, new figures were released on the costs of the German mission in Afghanistan: even at its present level, the German contingent will cost 785 million (715 million) in 2010, compared with 570 million this year. The resistance to Germany boosting its deployment comes from those who complain that no goals have been set for the International Security Force (Isaf) mission. All the indications from the leaked documents are that the German commander, Colonel Georg Klein, panicked and misjudged the situation on the ground on September 4. He has been recalled to Germany. No disciplinary action has yet been taken but the state prosecutor has begun an investigation. Federal judges have to decide whether his actions breached international law. If so, the accidental killing of civilians could be tried in German courts as a war crime. A ruling is expected before the end of the year Colonel Klein was concerned that the tankers would be used as suicide attack vehicles against the German camp. He sent a drone to take pictures but, as a report by the German military police shows, the photographs were ambiguous. Colonel Klein had only one source of intelligence an Afghan informant who could not see the lorries. That, as the US commander reminded the Germans within days of the attack, was a violation of the official rules of engagement designed to minimise civilian casualties. No on-the-ground reconnaissance unit was sent by the Germans until days after the incident. As information criticising Colonel Kleins actions started to flow, officials hoped that the public relations crisis would pass. During this period Mr Jung was obliged to give interviews to the press. He was at best vague, at worst misleading. In an interview with Bild am Sonntag on September 6, he said: According to all the information currently available to me, the operation conducted by a US airplane killed exclusively Taleban terrorists. He was more careful when addressing parliament. That statement to the press could come back to haunt him, and the Merkel Government, as it tries to make its case for sending soldiers to Afghanistan.