The International Security Assistance Force, NATO's security mission in Afghanistan, and U.S. Forces Afghanistan released a statement on Friday expressing regret over the deaths of Afghan civilians in recent coalition airstrikes. The statement promised a thorough investigation following two separate airstrikes earlier this month.
The statement read in part:
Unfortunately, the preliminary investigations into these events have determined that our actions have resulted in a number of deaths and injuries to Afghan civilians. The coalition takes full responsibility for these tragic and regrettable incidents, and we will meet with the family members of those who died or were injured to express our sincere condolences.
Civilian deaths in Afghanistan have been an ongoing point of contention between Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai and the United States. Last week, Karzai warned that NATO airstrikes resulting in civilian casualties could undermine the United States and Afghanistan's long-term partnership.
"If the lives of Afghan people are not safe, the signing of the strategic partnership has no meaning," a statement released by Karzai's office Monday evening said.
ISAF's apology comes in the wake of a United Nations report noting a 20 percent drop in civilian casualties in Afghanistan. Last year, over 3,000 civilians were killed and 4,500 were wounded in the country, Reuters reports.