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U.S. commander calls on Afghan president

2013-02-15  3gzylon

U.S. commander calls on Afghan president

(Xinhua)

10:22, February 15, 2013

KABUL, Feb. 14 (Xinhua) -- Top U.S. commander in Afghanistan Gen. Joseph Dunford met Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Thursday and expressed regret over deaths of civilians, the U.S. forces said in a statement.

"Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., the commander of U.S. Forces in Afghanistan, met today with President Karzai to provide his insights into the Afghan and Coalition forces partnered operation that was conducted on Wednesday in Shigal district, Kunar province. Gen. Dunford took this opportunity to express his personal condolences for any civilians who may have died or been injured as a result of the operation," the statement said.

Up to 10 civilians, including four women and five children, had been killed and five children wounded in an air raid attack against two compounds in the province 185 km east of Kabul, the provincial official told Xinhua on Wednesday, citing an initial probe. However, they said four armed militants were also killed in the incident.

"Gen. Dunford explained that the Coalition takes all allegations of civilian casualties seriously, and that we are conducting an assessment of the circumstances surrounding this incident. Gen. Dunford is committed to providing the results of that assessment to President Karzai once complete," the statement added.

Dunford assumed the command of more than 100,000 U.S. and NATO forces from his predecessor U.S. Gen. John Allen on Sunday.

"Because we understand that protecting Afghan civilians is the cornerstone of our mission here in Afghanistan, Gen. Dunford reaffirmed the Coalition's commitment to taking every step possible to ensure that we conduct our operations in a way that further reduces the number of civilian casualties," the coalition statement further said.

Taliban and other insurgent groups were responsible for killing or injuring of more than 3,400 Afghan civilians last year in the central Asian state while ISAF was responsible for 110 confirmed civilian fatalities in 2012.

"The Coalition will also meet with local village elders as well as families of those who may have been harmed during this operation in order to personally express our condolences," the coalition statement said. 

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