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US commander apologizes for airstrike that killed child in Afghanistan

Afghan President Hamid Karzai condemned an airstrike against an insurgent that killed a child. Omar Sobhani / Reuters

The top U.S. commander in Afghanistan apologized to Afghan President Hamid Karzai for a drone strike that local authorities said killed a child and injured two women on Thursday.

Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford “talked to President Karzai directly, expressed deep regrets for the incident and any civilian casualties, and promised to convene an immediate joint investigation to determine all the facts of what happened," said Dunford's spokesman, Col. David Lapan.

The International Security Assistance Force confirmation of civilian casualties in Helman Province came hours after Karzai issued a statement condemning a suspected drone strike, saying it imperils a bilateral security agreement with Washington that would keep U.S. troops in Afghanistan after 2014.

"This attack shows American forces are not respecting Afghan lives," the statement said, according to Agence France Presse.

"As long as unilateral acts and atrocities continue by American forces on our people, we won't sign this BSA."

The U.S.-led force in Afghanistan said Friday said in a statement Friday that it "deeply regrets any civilian casualties caused by this airstrike yesterday" on a "known insurgent riding a motorbike." 

The international coalition continued to say it is "committed to ensuring that all measures are taken to prevent civilian casualties."

"Coalition officials will work with Afghan officials to determine what happened and why. We extend our deepest sympathies to the families and loved ones of those killed or wounded," the statement said.

Karzai has already said the coalition must stop raiding Afghan homes if they want him to sign the long-term security deal.

Karzai also recently surprised Americans by saying he would rather allow his successor to sign the deal — which would not be until April 2014.

Combat troops are slated to withdraw from Afghanistan by the end of 2014, but the BSA would keep up to 15,000 troops in the country for training and counter-terrorism.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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