February 16, 2013 - 18:53 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - Afghan security forces are to be banned from calling for foreign air strikes in residential areas, President Hamid Karzai has said, according to BBC News.
Karzai said he would issue a decree on Sunday, Feb 17, less than a week after 10 civilians were killed in a night raid in the eastern province of Kunar.
NATO-led forces in Afghanistan are not expected to make a formal response until the full decree has been issued. Civilian casualties are a source of tension between Afghan and NATO forces.
"I will issue a decree [on Sunday] 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 troops are scheduled to withdraw from Afghanistan by the end of 2014 and have gradually been handing over responsibility for security to their Afghan counterparts.
Karzai said Afghans were "happy" about the withdrawal.
"We are happy for all their help and assistance so far, but we do not need foreign forces to defend our country. We want our Afghan forces to defend their homeland," he said.
Afghan forces now lead 90% of all security operations. Yet the Afghan air force has limited strength, so NATO air support is considered crucial, especially for operations in harsh terrain and mountainous areas, our correspondent says.
Most of the 10 civilians killed in the Feb 13 air strike on Kunar were women and children. Four Taliban fighters also died in the attack, in the Shegal district of Kunar, which borders Pakistan. The Afghan army said the dead men had links to al-Qaeda.
The deaths came just a few hours after U.S. President confirmed plans for the withdrawal of about half the 66,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan by early 2014.
Last year a U.S. drone attack in the same area killed Mullah Dadullah, a high-ranking Pakistani Taliban commander.
Civilian casualties rose sharply in every year from 2008 to 2011, though they fell in the first half of 2012, according to figures from the UN mission in Afghanistan.