Obama: United States is ‘heartbroken’ over Afghan civilians killed in attack

Obama: United States is ‘heartbroken’ over Afghan civilians killed in attack

President Obama said Tuesday that the United States is heartbroken over the Afghan civilians killed by a U.S. soldier, and takes the deaths as seriously as if the victims were our own.

Obama spoke as violence in Afghanistan began to escalate two days after a U.S. soldier killed more than a dozen Afghan civilians in an apparent rogue attack.

The United States takes this as seriously as if it was our own citizens and our own children who were murdered, Obama said during brief remarks in the Rose Garden. We are heartbroken over the loss of innocent life.

Obama, who met earlier Tuesday with Gen. John Allen and Ambassador Ryan Croker in Washington, said hes directed the Pentagon to spare no effort in conducting a full investigation into the shootings, which occurred early Sunday morning. But Obama sought to ease tensions in the war zone, saying that the killing of innocent civilians is outrageous, and its unacceptable.

Its not who we are as a country, and it does not represent our military, he said.

Obama, who has faced increasing pressure to pull U.S. troops out of Afghanistan because of a heightened anti-American sentiment, said the United States has a strategy that will allow us to responsibly wind down this war. During his remarks, Obama highlighted the administrations efforts to remove 23,000 troops by the end of this summer, in addition to the 10,000 troops that withdrew last year.

“Were steadily transitioning to the Afghans, who are moving into the lead, the president said. And thats going to allow us to bring our troops home.

At the same time, Obama said, we will continue the work of devastating al Qaedas leadership and denying them a safe haven.

Theres no question that we face a difficult challenge in Afghanistan, he said. But I am confident that we can continue the work of meeting our objectives, protecting our country and responsibly bringing this war to a close.

At the daily briefing on Tuesday, after Obama's remarks, White House press secretary Jay Carney said news reports which say that the White House is considering a specific number of troops in Afghanistan to draw-down is "simply false."

"We will continue to withdraw U.S forces," Carney said, adding that "the pace of that withdrawal "has not yet been decided."

"I think it's important to understand that in spite of recent events, the strategy is a broad-based strategy."

This story was updated at 2:25 p.m.