NATO's top military commander has apologized for recent civilian deaths in southern Afghanistan.
But US General James Jones blamed Taleban fighters for the tragedy, saying they are using civilians as human shields.
General Jones made the comments Saturday during a visit to Bagram, the largest US base in Afghanistan. He was referring to a NATO operation in southern Kandahar province earlier this week, in which at least 60 civilians were killed.
NATO officials disputed that account, saying 12 civilians were killed and 48 insurgents died in the clashes Tuesday. The alliance also said it was not clear if the civilians were killed because of Taleban or NATO action.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai has appointed a commission to investigate.
Meanwhile, a rebel spokesman said the Taleban has rejected the latest offer by Mr. Karzai for peace talks.
The spokesman said there is no possibility of any talks with what he called the Afghan puppet government when the country is under occupation.