NATO Apologizes for Afghan Civilian Deaths

In a video distributed Feb. 23, the top NATO commander in Afghanistan, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, apologized for 27 civilian deaths that occurred after U.S. forces attacked a convoy of Afghan civilians that had been mistaken for insurgents. The Christian Science Monitor reported that it was the coalition’s deadliest mistake in six months. While public apologies by NATO have come to seem almost commonplace—this was just one of half a dozen in February and the second by McChrystal himself—the push to admit mistakes and apologize is unprecedented in NATO’s nine-year intervention in Afghanistan. But it does reflect McChrystal’s new strategy that prioritizes winning over the population. “I have instituted a thorough investigation to prevent this from happening again,” he said. “I pledge to strengthen our efforts to regain your trust to build a brighter future for all Afghans. Most importantly, I express my deepest, heartfelt condolences to the victims and their families. We all share in their grief and will keep them in our thoughts and prayers.”

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