Petraeus vows to keep Afghan civilian deaths to a minimum

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — The top NATO commander in Afghanistan pledged Thursday to reduce the loss of innocent lives in NATO attacks to an “absolute minimum.”

U.S. Army Gen. David H. Petraeus’ comments, made in Khost province, reflected harsh Afghan complaints over casualties from NATO airstrikes.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Tuesday ordered the U.S.-led coalition to stop bombing homes. Mr. Karzai’s remarks were prompted by a recent airstrike that killed children and women.

It was Mr. Karzai’s strongest-ever statement against NATO airstrikes and further complicated a difficult relationship with the United States as it prepares a troop drawdown in the increasingly unpopular war. NATO said the airstrikes would continue. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said civilian casualties are unavoidable.

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