Afghanistan’s Karzai Signs Ban On NATO Airstrikes

Afghanistan’s President Hamid Karzai signed a ban on NATO airstrikes in the country on Monday. The ban prohibits members of the Afghan security forces from requesting NATO airstrikes in residential neighborhoods.

The ban is in response to an airstrike last week that killed 10 people in a house, including women and children. Three militant fighters were also killed in the attack.

Karzai has long been outspoken against NATO and US involvement in the country. In response, foreign troops are announcing earlier troop pullouts than before.

Karzai promised the ban on Sunday in a news conference, reports Al Jazeera. The president said:

“No Afghan security force, under any circumstances, any circumstances, can ask for the foreigners’ planes for carrying out operations on our homes and villages.”

General Joseph Dunford, who commands the US forces in Afghanistan, has said that the American-led NATO coalition should still be able to operate effectively under the airstrike ban. Yahoo! News notes that Dunford added:

“There are other ways we can support our Afghan partners other than air ordinance.”

NATO released a statement before Karzai signed the airstrike ban. They announced that an Afghan soldier who killed his US-counterpart in an “insider attack” last year was killed in the airstrike in Kunar province last week.

The man, Mahmoud, is believed responsible for the death of US army lieutenant Alejo Thompson on May 11, 2012. Two other US soldiers were wounded in the attack.

While Afghan security forces will not be allowed to call on NATO for air strikes in residential areas, the coalition forces can still carry out airstrikes on their own.

[Image by ISAF Headquarters Public Affairs Office from Kabul, Afghanistan (Flickr – 090805-F-6293H-127) [CC-BY-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons]