Afghanistan: 'US troops goal is to go after Qaeda'
Washington: The main principle of the US troops stationed in Afghanistan is to go after al Qaeda and eliminate the dared terrorist outfit, the White House said on Thursday after Taliban insurgents claimed to have shot down a NATO helicopter in the war-ravaged nation, killing 11 soldiers.
"The President's (Barack Obama) policy in Afghanistan was, after his review, predicated on the principle that our principal goal for being there is to go after al Qaeda, to eliminate al Qaeda and those who've threatened the US from the Af-Pak region," White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters at his daily news conference.
"In the service of that overarching goal, we have helped build up Afghan security forces, helped stabilise portions of the country, and we are in the process of drawing down our forces as we turn over more and more responsibility to Afghan security forces," Carney said.
He said the US' relationship with its Afghan partners is strong and that every day its forces fight alongside Afghan forces.
"There are now about 350,000 Afghan forces and we partner with those Afghan forces on 90 percent of operations. Whenever there's a so-called green-on-blue incident, it is concerning. And the fact that there have been the number of incidents that you mentioned is deeply concerning. It is also important to put it in perspective," he said.
Referring to the recent increase in attacks on US forces inside Afghanistan, Carney said International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) has been continuously assessing and refining procedures in force protection so that they can both meet mission requirements and ensure the safety of the forces.
"On the matter of what's called green-on-blue incidents, there's no question that these incidents are deeply concerning, and our hearts go out to the families and friends of those who have lost loved ones in those incidents," Carney said.
"ISAF did announce that an ISAF helicopter crashed today in southern Afghanistan, killing seven American service members, three Afghan security forces and one Afghan civilian interpreter. Based on my information, as of this time the cause of that crash is still under investigation. But of course, our thoughts and prayers are with those American and Afghan families who lost loved ones in that incident," he said in response to a question on the helicopter crash.