Officials Express Regret Over Civilian Casualties
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, July 4, 2005 The coalition's military command in Afghanistan today released a statement expressing regret over civilian casualties resulting from a July 1 air strike on a terrorist compound in the country's Kunar province.
In the statement, Combined Forces Command Afghanistan officials said the strike used precision-guided munitions "that resulted in the deaths of an unknown number of enemy terrorists and noncombatants." The noncombatants apparently were members of the terrorists' families.
The targeted compound was a known operating base for terrorist attacks in Kunar province, the statement continued, as well as a base for a medium-level terrorist leader. The battle damage assessment continues, officials said.
"U.S. forces regret the loss of innocent lives and follow stringent rules of engagement specifically to ensure that noncombatants are safeguarded," the statement said. "However, when enemy forces move their families into the locations where they conduct terrorist operations, they put these innocent civilians at risk."
Officials said guarding against civilian casualties is a high priority, sometimes resulting in planned missions being cancelled. "Every air operation is carefully planned, and all possible efforts are taken to prevent noncombatant injuries and deaths," the command's statement said. "In some instances, U.S. forces dramatically alter a planned mission, or cancel it altogether, to prevent risk to innocent lives. Coalition forces deeply regret the loss of innocent lives, and are investigating the incident to prevent future occurrences."