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Afghan civilian deaths investigated

Feb. 21, 2009 at 12:20 PM

KABUL, Afghanistan, Feb. 21 (UPI) -- Thirteen civilians were killed during an operation conducted by coalition forces in Afghanistan's Herat province this week, military officials said Saturday.

Brig. Gen. Michael Ryan of U.S. Forces-Afghanistan said coalition forces are sympathetic regarding the civilian losses suffered during Tuesday's military operation near the province's Gozara district, a U.S. Forces-Afghanistan news release stated Saturday.

"We expressed our deepest condolences to the survivors of the non-combatants who were killed during this operation," Ryan said.

Ryan added Afghan army and coalition personnel were investigating the incident, in which three insurgents also were killed.

"Our inquiry in Herat demonstrates how seriously we take our responsibility in conducting operations against militant targets and the occurrence of non-combatant casualties," the U.S. military official said. "Our concern is for the security of the Afghan people. To this end, we continually evaluate the operations we conduct during the course of our mission in Afghanistan and have agreed to coordinate our efforts jointly."

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