Karzai to ban Afghan troops from requesting foreign airstrikes

KABUL — President Hamid Karzai announced Saturday he intends to ban Afghan ground forces from calling in NATO airstrikes on residential areas — even though his country’s fighters have had to rely in the past on such air power in operations against Taliban militants.

KABUL — President Hamid Karzai announced Saturday he intends to ban Afghan ground forces from calling in NATO airstrikes on residential areas — even though his country’s fighters have had to rely in the past on such air power in operations against Taliban militants.

“Our forces ask for air support from foreigners, and children get killed in an airstrike,” Karzai said in a speech at a military academy here, reinforcing his often truculent posture toward the U.S.-backed international coalition that has long supported his government.

Ten civilians, including five women and four children, died in a NATO airstrike Tuesday night in a remote village in eastern Kunar province that also killed three militant commanders, one of them linked to al-Qaeda, Afghan officials said.

NATO launched an investigation, and Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., the new commander of U.S. and international forces here, met with Karzai to express condolences for civilian casualties, according to statements earlier this week from both the presidential palace and the alliance.

The Afghan leader said he would issue a decree Sunday “stating that under no conditions can Afghan forces request foreign airstrikes on Afghan homes or Afghan villages during operations.”

Because Afghanistan has only an incipient air force, NATO must fill the void to protect its own troops and the Afghans’ — even while fending off Karzai’s repeated accusations that it is somehow indifferent to civilian deaths.

A former Afghan general, Amrullah Aman, reacted with surprise to Karzai’s remarks in an interview with the Associated Press.

Agencies.

Subscribe to The New Times E-Paper


You want to chat directly with us? Send us a message on WhatsApp at +250 788 310 999    

 

Follow The New Times on Google News