The commander of US and NATO troops in Afghanistan apologized Friday for civilian deaths in a coalition airstrike earlier this week - the first confirmation by NATO forces that civilians were killed in the operation.
Marine Gen. John Allen flew to Logar province to personally deliver his regrets to villagers and provincial officials for the deaths of women, children and village elders in Wednesday's pre-dawn raid to capture a Taliban operative.
Afghan officials have said the airstrike called in by NATO troops killed 18 civilians.
"I know that no apology can bring back the lives of the children or the people who perished in this tragedy and this accident, but I want you to know that you have my apology and we will do the right thing by the families," Allen told the group of about two dozen Afghans gathered at a base at the provincial capital of Pul-i-Alam.
Nighttime raids on militants taking cover in villages have been a repeated source of strain between the Afghan government, which says the raids put civilians in the crossfire, and its international allies, who say such operations are key to rooting out insurgent leaders