May 10, 2007
Contact:
Leah Yoon, NPR
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GENERAL DAN MCNEILL, NATO COMMANDER OF INTERNATIONAL
SECURITY ASSISTANCE FORCE IN AFGHANISTAN
CONFIRMS CIVILIAN CASUALTIES IN AIRSTRIKE IN THIS WEEK;
SAYS “IT DOES APPEAR THERE WERE CIVILIAN CASUALTIES”

ON NPR NEWS MORNING EDITION
TOMORROW, FRIDAY, MAY 11, 2007

TRANSCRIBED EXCERPT BELOW; AUDIO AVAILABLE WEDNESDAY MORNING AT
WWW.NPR.ORG


May 10, 2007; Washington, DC – General Dan McNeill, Commander of NATO’s International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan confirmed there were civilian casualties in an airstrike incident earlier this week in Helmand province. In an interview with Steve Inskeep airing tomorrow on NPR News’ Morning Edition, General Dan McNeill says “It does appear there were civilian casualties – exactly what caused them, we’re working our way through all that.”

Transcribed excerpts of the interview are below. All excerpts must be credited to NPR News’ Morning Edition. The interview airs tomorrow morning, Friday, May 11. Local station’s air time of the program is available at www.npr.org/stations. Audio of the interview will be available at www.npr.org

General McNeill describes the airstrike incident in Helmand province this week:

“A coalition unit, mostly Americans, was conducting an operation north in Helmand province. Part of a larger—it was an adjunct to a larger NATO operation-- they got into an ambush by a far superior force, and as they tried to work their way through this by shooting and moving, it became clear this was a pretty good size insurgent force who also could shoot and move pretty well. And eventually the only way they were going get out of it is --they got backed up to a river and between that and a piece of high ground--was to use airstrikes - it did not dissuade the insurgents - continued to go on for a while - it does appear there were civilian casualties - exactly what caused them, we're working our way through all that. But I should say this, that we take extreme measures in this country - the coalition and the alliance-- to mitigate the risk to civilians as well as property. The insurgents, on the other hand, take no measures. And I think we can state conclusively has been and likely was their tactic to push themselves inside of civilian homes, to shoot from those homes and we know this. Nevertheless we take great, great care in trying not to do undue damage. On the other hand we don't (the soldiers of the alliance or the coalition to be killed - and when we're attacked, we're gonna attack back.”

-NPR-