The commander of US and NATO troops in Afghanistan apologized today 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 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. NATO has said the strike was aimed at a Taliban leader, but villagers have said there was a wedding at the house the evening before, and it was full of visiting families. Taliban fighters apparently hid in the house, believing the wedding would provide cover.