(KABUL, Afghanistan) — A NATO airstrike that accidentally killed 18 civilians last week was the last straw for Afghan President Hamid Karzai.
After meeting with Gen. John Allen, the commander of NATO’s International Security Assistance Force, and U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker, Karzai received assurances over the weekend that the coalition would no longer conduct airstrikes on areas populated by civilians.
A statement from Karzai’s office read that Allen “once again officially apologized for civilian casualties in Baraki Barak district” and “promised…not to carry out air strikes on public residential areas.”
Even after the NATO commander explained that the airstrikes last week were spurred by coalition forces coming under fire by the Taliban, Karzai insisted, “Attacks by NATO that cause life and property losses to civilians under no circumstances could be justified and are not acceptable.”
The loss of civilian lives in the pursuit of the enemy has long been a bone of contention between the Afghan government and the international coalition. This agreement, if it holds, will prove to be a political victory for Karzai at the cost of making warfare more difficult for the U.S. and NATO.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Ralph Ellis, Ben Wedeman and Michael Pearson, CNN