Karzai says NATO to end air strikes on residential areas
Afghan President Hamid Karzai said Saturday that the US commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan had “promised” air strikes on residential areas would stop after apologising for recentcivilian deaths.
Karzai met General John Allen, commander of NATO’sInternational Security Assistance Force (ISAF), and US Ambassador Ryan Crocker days after a strike in Logar province, which Afghan officials say killed 18 civilians.
Allen “once again officially apologised for civilian casualties in Baraki Barak district” and “promised… not to carry out air strikes on public residential areas,” a statement from Karzai’s office read.
The statement added that “after agreeing with the demands of the president” Allen had said NATO forces “will completely stop such operations”.
Karzai’s comments came a day after Allen flew to Logar province, south of Kabul, to apologise over the deaths of civilians in an air strike on a home in the area in the early hours of Wednesday.
ISAF said multiple insurgents were killed in the strike, which was ordered after troops came under fire during an operation against a Taliban insurgent leader, but Karzai expressed outrage and cut short a visit to Beijing.
“Attacks by NATO that cause life and property losses to civilians under no circumstances could be justified and are not acceptable,” Karzai said of the attack.
It was the second time within a month that Allen had to admit civilian deaths in NATO air strikes that have strained relations between Karzai and the US, which leads international forces in the fight against Taliban insurgents.
Responding to Saturday’s statement from the Afghan presidential office an ISAF spokesman told AFP that they were “aware of the comments of the palace.
“We are currently reviewing our tactical directives and procedures and will continue to partner the government of Afghanistan to implement measures that effectively increase our efforts to minimise civilian casualties throughout all of our operations,” the spokesman said.