NATO Air Strikes Can No Longer Target Houses in Afghanistan, says Karzai

Posted on May 31, 2011 in Police, Military, & War

TruthisTreason.net – Kevin Hayden

Source: Guardian

Angered by civilian casualties, the Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, has said he will no longer allow NATO air strikes on houses, issuing his strongest statement yet against methods that the military alliance says are key to its war on Taliban insurgents.

The president’s remarks follow a recent strike that mistakenly killed a group of children and women in southern Helmand province. He said it would be the last.

“From this moment, air strikes on the houses of people are not allowed,” Karzai told reporters in Kabul.

Nato says it never conducts such strikes without Afghan government co-ordination and approval. A spokesman for Nato forces in Afghanistan said they will review their procedures for air strikes given Karzai’s statement but did not say that it would force any immediate change in tactics.

“In the days and weeks ahead we will co-ordinate very closely with President Karzai to ensure that his intent is met,” spokeswoman Major Sunset Belinsky said.

If Karzai holds to what sounds like an order to international troops to abandon strikes, it could bring the Afghan government in direct conflict with its international allies.

“Coalition forces constantly strive to reduce the chance of civilian casualties and damage to structures, but when the insurgents use civilians as a shield and put our forces in a position where their only option is to use air strikes, then they will take that option,” Belinsky said.

It is unclear if Karzai has the power to order an end to such strikes. Nato and US forces are in Afghanistan under a United Nations mandate that expires in October.

The US is negotiating an agreement with the Afghan government on the presence of its forces in the country going forward, but this has already become contentious, with Karzai declaring that he will put strict controls on how US troops conduct themselves in his country.

“The Afghan people can no longer tolerate these attacks,” Karzai told reporters at the presidential palace.

He issued a veiled threat: “The Afghan people will be forced to take action.” He did not, however, say what this action would be. “We want it to be clear that they are working in a sovereign nation,” Karzai said.

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