(KABUL, Afghanistan) — A major difference of opinion has developed over an agreement made by the Afghan government and NATO over ending air strikes in residential areas in order to end accidental civilian casualties.
Afghan President Hamid Karzi announced at the start of the week that he received assurances from Gen. John Allen, the commander of NATO’s International Security Assistance Force, and U.S. Ambassador John Crocker that “attacks by NATO that cause life and property losses to civilians under no circumstances could be justified and are not acceptable.”
On Monday, the Pentagon explained that all air strikes were out except in last resort cases when the lives of U.S. and coalition members were in danger.
Apparently, that was not what Karzai signed up for because he said on Tuesday NATO airstrikes in civilian areas are “absolutely banned” even when the lives of coalition forces are in jeopardy.
Repeating himself, the Afghan leader said that Afghanistan regards air strikes as a “disproportionate” and illegitimate” use of force.
The loss of civilian lives in the pursuit of the enemy has long been a bone of contention between Karzai and the international coalition, especially after the deaths of 18 civilians last week that included women and children.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Ralph Ellis, Ben Wedeman and Michael Pearson, CNN
Chris Williams and Jason Hanna, CNN