Afghan President Hamid Karzai said today he will issue a decree banning Afghan security forces from asking international troops to carry out airstrikes under "any circumstances." The announcement came amid anger over a joint Afghan-NATO operation this week that Afghan officials said killed 10 civilians, including women and children, in northeast Kunar province. Civilian deaths at the hands of foreign forces, in particular airstrikes, have been among the most divisive issues of the 11-year-old war.
"I will issue a decree tomorrow that no Afghan security forces, in any circumstances can ask for the foreigners' planes for carrying out operations on our homes and villages,'' Karzai said in a speech at the Afghan National Military Academy in Kabul. NATO has not formally responded yet. The Afghan military relies heavily on air support to gain advantage in the fight against militants, but Karzai said Afghan forces were ready to take over their own security. "We are happy that foreign forces are withdrawing from our country," he said. "We are happy for all their help and assistance so far, but we don't need foreign forces to defend our country."