Gates regrets Afghan civilian toll

US defence secretary says he would find new ways to target fighters.

     Gates said from now on the US would apologise first and then investigate [AFP]

    The growing civilian toll had prompted the Afghan government to seek new rules of military engagement by international troops.

    In a report released by Human Rights Watch, a US-based group, at least 119 civilians were killed in air raids in the first seven months of 2008, mostly in US-led operations.

    The defence secretary's visit also comes at the time of a series of controversial cross-border raids on Pakistan by US forces.

    "I think what we have seen and I have been pleased about, is in recent weeks to see the Pakistani army once again putting pressure in this area.

    "It is my hope that we can work closely with the Pakistanis to prevent this from being a safe haven that threatens both Afghanistan and a democratic Pakistan," Gates said after meeting Hamid Karzai, the Afghan president.

    More troops

    "In addition to the forces our international partners have agreed to send, we will be sending additional forces in 2009, and my expectation is we will be able to meet the requirements the commanders have in the course of 2009," he said.

    General David McKiernan, the senior US commander in Afghanistan, said on Tuesday that he needed more than 10,000 combat troops in addition to those already committed. The US had announced an increase of 4,500 soldiers for Afghanistan early next year.

    There are currently at least 33,000 US troops there, with a similar number provided by other international forces.

    SOURCE: Agencies


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    How different voting systems work around the world

    How different voting systems work around the world

    Nearly two billion voters in 52 countries around the world will head to the polls this year to elect their leaders.

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    Russian-Saudi relations could be very different today, if Stalin hadn't killed the Soviet ambassador to Saudi Arabia.

    The great plunder: Nepal's stolen treasures

    The great plunder: Nepal's stolen treasures

    How the art world's hunger for ancient artefacts is destroying a centuries-old culture. A journey across the Himalayas.