Central & South Asia

Karzai to limit foreign air strike assistance

Afghan president says he will issue a decree on Sunday preventing any resort to such measures by his forces.
Last Modified: 17 Feb 2013 06:22
Al Jazeera's Jennifer Glasse says it is 'unclear' what impact this will have on military operations on the ground

Afghan security forces are to be banned from calling for foreign air raids in residential areas, President Hamid Karzai has said.

Karzai said he would issue a decree on Sunday, less than a week after 10 civilians were killed in such a raid in the eastern province of Kunar.

Nato-led forces in Afghanistan are not expected to issue a response until the full decree has been disclosed.

If issued, such a decree would for the first time bar Afghan forces from relying on NATO air strikes [AFP]

NATO air attacks and civilian casualties have become a source of tension in the relationship between Karzai and his international backers.

The issue threatens to further destabilise a precarious international withdrawal, to be completed by the end of 2014.

"I will issue a decree [on Sunday] that no Afghan security forces, in any circumstances can ask for the foreigners' planes for carrying out operations on our homes and villages," Karzai said in a speech at the Afghan National Military Academy in the capital, Kabul, on Saturday.

"Our forces ask for air support from foreigners and children get killed in an air strike."

If issued, such a decree would for the first time bar Afghan security forces from relying on NATO air strikes, and increase pressure on them as they increasingly assume control of security from international forces.

NATO and its partners are racing against the clock to train Afghanistan's 350,000-strong security forces, though questions remain over how they well the Afghans will be able to tackle the insurgency in the face of intensifying violence.

On Wednesday, a NATO air strike - requested during an operation in eastern Kunar province involving Afghan and American troops targeting Taliban fighters linked to al-Qaeda - struck two houses in a village in the Shultan valley.

The strike killed 10 people, including five children and four women. Four Taliban fighters, who had links to al-Qaeda, according to Afghan officials, were also killed.


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