Home World Asia News Hamid Karzai limits NATO air strikes in Afghan residential areas

Hamid Karzai limits NATO air strikes in Afghan residential areas


President Hamid Karzai has announced that Afghan security forces are to be banned from calling for foreign air strikes in residential areas.

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

NATO-led forces in Afghanistan are not expected to make a formal response until the full decree has been issued.

Civilian casualties are a source of tension between Afghan and NATO forces.

“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,” Hamid Karzai said in a speech at the Afghan National Military Academy in Kabul.

“Our forces ask for air support from foreigners and children get killed in an air strike,” he added.

NATO troops are scheduled to withdraw from Afghanistan by the end of 2014 and have gradually been handing over responsibility for security to their Afghan counterparts.

Hamid Karzai said Afghans were “happy” about the withdrawal.

“We are happy for all their help and assistance so far, but we do not need foreign forces to defend our country. We want our Afghan forces to defend their homeland,” he said.

Afghan forces now lead 90% of all security operations.

Yet the Afghan air force has limited strength, so NATO air support is considered crucial, especially for operations in harsh terrain and mountainous areas.

President Hamid Karzai has announced that Afghan security forces are to be banned from calling for foreign air strikes in residential areas

President Hamid Karzai has announced that Afghan security forces are to be banned from calling for foreign air strikes in residential areas

Most of the 10 civilians killed in the February 13th air strike on Kunar were women and children.

Four Taliban fighters also died in the attack, in the Shegal district of Kunar, which borders Pakistan. The Afghan army said the dead men had links to al-Qaeda.

Hamid Karzai said he had been told the air strike was requested by Afghan forces.

“If this is true, it is very regrettable and it is very shameful. How could they ask foreigners to send planes and bomb our own houses?” he said.

“I agree we are passing through a challenging phase, but we are the owners of this country… and fortunately, we will show to the world that we can protect our country,” said President Hamid Karzai.

The deaths in Kunar came just after US President Barack Obama confirmed plans for the withdrawal of about half the 66,000 US troops in Afghanistan by early 2014.

Last year a US drone attack in the same area killed Mullah Dadullah, a high-ranking Pakistani Taliban commander.

Civilian casualties rose sharply in every year from 2008 to 2011, though they fell in the first half of 2012, according to figures from the UN mission in Afghanistan.

The figures cover deaths caused both by NATO forces, allied with government troops, and by insurgents.

A UN report earlier this month accused the US of killing hundreds of children in air strikes over the past four years.


The number of child casualties had doubled in 2010-2011 due to a “lack of precautionary measures and use of indiscriminate force”, the study found.

The NATO-led ISAF force called the claims “categorically unfounded” and “false”.