After an airstrike in Afghanistan last week that killed 18 civilians, including nine children, coalition forces have issued new restrictions on airstrikes on militants who hide in residential homes, reports the New York Times. The move comes after a NATO apology and a weekend meeting between President Hamid Karzai and the US ambassador to Afghanistan. "Given our commitment to protect Afghan civilians, restricting the use of air-delivered munitions against insurgents within civilian dwellings is a prudent and logical step in the progression in the campaign," said a NATO spokesman.
However, differences between the Karzai government and coalition forces remain. Karzai released a statement saying the agreement meant an end to attacks on civilian homes and areas altogether, while American officials said that the agreement was more nuanced—and indicated strikes could still include ground attacks and even airstrikes when there is no other option. “When there is concern over the presence of civilians, air-delivered munitions will not be employed while other means are available,” an official told the Times. But "make no mistake, we are going to preserve our flexibility to protect our troops and our partners."