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NATO to abide Afghan air strike ban

(AFP) / 17 February 2013

The commander of US-led forces in Afghanistan said Sunday he would comply with President Hamid Karzai’s order banning Afghan security forces from seeking NATO air support.

Karzai Saturday said he would issue a decree ordering an end to local security forces calling in NATO air strikes amid new tensions over civilian casualties caused by such attacks.

Karzai made the statement after a NATO air raid killed 10 civilians including women and children in a region of eastern Afghanistan on Wednesday night.

Afghan military officers listen to President Hamid Karzai's speech in Kabul, Afghanistan on Saturday, Feb. 16, 2013. Afghan President Hamid Karzai said Saturday he plans to issue a decree banning Afghan security forces from asking international troops to carry out airstrikes under ‘any circumstances’.   -  AP

US General Joseph Dunford, who took charge of the US-led NATO force in the war-battered country last Sunday, said he was prepared to comply.

‘We are prepared to provide support in line with the president’s intent,’ Dunford told reporters in Kabul.

Karzai summoned Dunford over the air raid in Kunar province.

‘I get the broad guidance from the president and we will work out the details in the coming days,’ Dunford said.

‘We have restraints and constraints on each operation. I believe we will continue to support the ANSF (Afghan National Security Forces) and meet the president’s intent,’ Dunford said in response to questions Karzai’s order.

‘There are other ways to support the Afghans besides aviation,’ he said.

He said his troops had made ‘huge progress in mitigating the civilian casualties’.

Civilian casualties caused by military operations, often air strikes, are a sensitive issue in Afghanistan where Dunford is leading more than 100,000 US and NATO troops to defeat a Taleban-led insurgency.


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