Afghan young military officers stand in attention before listening to the speech of Afghan President Hamid Karzai during a ceremony in Kabul on Feb. 16, 2013. President Hamid Karzai announced Saturday he intends to ban Afghan ground forces from calling in NATO airstrikes on residential areas.
General: U.S., NATO will abide by Afghan president’s decree
By Richard Leiby, Sunday, February 17, 7:41 AM
KABUL — The new commander of U.S and NATO forces in Afghanistan said Sunday he would comply with an intended order by President Hamid Karzai that prohibits Afghan forces from calling in NATO airstrikes on residential areas.
Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., on the job here a week, said the international coalition would find “other ways” to support Afghan ground forces, which frequently depend on NATO air power in their operations against Taliban insurgents.
Karzai announced his planned decree on Saturday after 10 civilians, including five women and four children, died in a NATO airstrike Tuesday night reportedly called in by Afghan intelligence operatives in a remote village in eastern Kunar province. The air attack on two homes also killed three militant commanders, Afghan officials said.
Karzai repeatedly has lashed out at the coalition over civilian casualties, while NATO says it does its best to limit them. Dunford said Sunday that international forces have made “extraordinary progress in mitigating the risk to civilians.”