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General Calls Civilian Casualty Reports 'Groundless'

American Forces Press Service

KABUL, March 12, 2010 - Reports of civilian casualties resulting from military operations this week in Afghanistan are "completely groundless," a senior official of the International Security Assistance Force Joint Command said here today.

On March 10, an international security force unit patrolling in southern Afghanistan came under small-arms fire from an insurgent position. The patrol returned fire and requested support from ISAF aircraft. Reports from the patrol, after they inspected the area, confirmed that one insurgent had been killed.

The patrol also verified that no civilians were in the area, and that no civilian property was damaged during the engagement.

Yesterday, ISAF officials became aware of allegations that 16 civilians had been killed in an air strike in the same area, and that international security forces had killed three children in the same district on the day of the patrol.

"We are here to support the Afghan government and to protect the Afghan people," said Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Michael Regner, the joint command's deputy chief of staff for combined joint operations. "We take accusations like these extremely seriously, so we do everything we can to discover the truth. When we do find we are at fault, we never hesitate to accept responsibility. In these two cases, though, our investigation has shown that the charges are completely groundless."

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