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US Commander Apologizes for Afghan Air Strike


U.S. Marine pushes RQ-7B Shadow UAV drone following its landing at Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan, Nov. 10, 2011.

U.S. Marine pushes RQ-7B Shadow UAV drone following its landing at Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan, Nov. 10, 2011.

The head of international military forces in Afghanistan has apologized to President Hamid Karzai, after the president harshly criticized the United States for what he said was a drone strike that killed a child.

A coalition spokesman says U.S. General Joseph Dunford called Karzai and expressed "deep regrets" for the Thursday strike and any civilian casualties.

The official also said Friday that an insurgent riding a motorcycle was the intended target of the strike in the southern Helmand province.

NATO has pledged to investigate the incident.

Mr. Karzai warned the incident threatened a proposed bilateral security agreement with the United States. The deal is aimed at shaping a U.S. military presence in Afghanistan after the 2014 withdrawal of most foreign forces.

In a Thursday statement, Karzai said the attack showed that American forces do not respect the lives and security of Afghan civilians. He also said the strike injured two women.

Civilian casualties have been one of the most sensitive issues of the 12-year military intervention in Afghanistan.

Washington is pressing the Afghan government to sign the new security agreement or face the prospect of no U.S. troops in the country beyond 2014.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and AFP.

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