Obama: Shooting spree won’t hasten U.S. troop withdrawal from Afghanistan

The White House insisted that U.S. troop withdrawal from Afghanistan will proceed as planned despite growing outrage over the shooting deaths of 16 Afghan civilians, including 9 women and 3 children.

“It’s important for us to make sure that we get out in a responsible way so that we don’t end up having to go back in or deal with al-Qaeda resurgent and potentially launching attacks against us. And so, what we try to do is create a responsible pathway for an exit where by the end – 2014 – we’ll have all our troops out,” President Barack Obama explained in an interview with KDKA.

Read more: Obama, Panetta condemn rampage that killed 16 Afghan civilians

The shooting spree by an American soldier in Kandahar have sparked angry public protests and worsened tensions between the U.S. and Afghanistan.

The two countries have struggled to repair strained relations since January when a video showing U.S. troops allegedly urinating on Taliban corpses surfaced online.

Weeks later, reports of inadvertent Koran burnings by NATO troops at Bagram Airbase prompted violent retaliations, including the shooting death of two U.S. officers inside the Afghan Interior Ministry and a grenade attack that wounded seven U.S. military advisers at a NATO base.

“We’ve had a difficult and complex few weeks in Afghanistan. That is obvious to everyone,” said Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

These incidents have undermined U.S. and NATO credibility and fueled support for the Taliban’s anti-American campaign. The Taliban’s resurgence would destabilize the already precarious security situation in Afghanistan, dealing a major setback to the U.S. counter-terrorism efforts.

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