No more airstrikes on civilian houses: Allen
KABUL (PAN): Hours after a stern warning from the Karzai administration, the top US military commander in Afghanistan on Saturday promised foreign troops would no longer conduct air raids on civilian houses.
Three days after a deadly airstrike in central Logar province, International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) commander Gen. John Allen held out the strong assurance at a meeting with President Hamid Karzai.
At the Presidential Palace in Kabul, the findings of an investigation into the Baraki Barak raid was shared with Allen and US Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker. At least 18 civilians were killed in the bombardment on Wednesday.
Also on Saturday, President Karzai warned that unilateral airstrikes by American forces would be considered a violation of the Afghan-US strategic cooperation pact that was signed in late April.
Presidential spokesman Aimal Faizi told journalists in Kabul that the US had not consulted Afghan forces on calling the raid. He said that Afghan forces were not taken into confidence on the operation.
“Local security personnel had fully ringed the house that was bombed by US troops,” according to the presidential spokesman, who insisted the people inside had no escape route.
A statement from Karzai’s office said Allen and Crocker were told about several raids that killed innocent residents, including women and children, after the signing of the strategic cooperation pact between the US and Afghanistan.
Such operations were in contradiction to the spirit of the deal and Afghanistan wanted an immediate halt to them, the palace said. The government had inked the agreement in the hope that Afghan villages would be bombed no longer, it added.
Gen. Allen apologised to Karzai for the civilian casualties in Logar, pledging the foreign troops would not hit civilian houses and populated areas.
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