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Karzai calls U.S. airstrike 'one-sided' decision, says such operations violate pact

June 10, 2012 - Kabul

Afghan President Hamid Karzai has said the U.S. has put the two countries' security pact at risk with a unilateral airstrike that killed 18 civilians, while a Taliban suicide bomber killed four French soldiers responding to a tipoff about a bomb hidden under a bridge.

The majority of NATO and U.S. forces are scheduled to leave the country by the end of 2014, but the exit is looking far from neat at the beginning of the hot summer months when fighting typically surges, reports the Washington Post.

The U.S., meanwhile, has tried to create an orderly transition through a series of agreements covering detentions, village raids and its long-term commitment to Afghanistan. But the Wednesday airstrike by U.S. forces showed how quickly those deals divorce from the reality on the ground, the paper stated.

Presidential spokesman Aimal Faizi said Karzai met with investigators and concluded that U.S. troops had called in the aircraft without coordinating with Afghan units - thus, according to Kabul's interpretation, violating the terms of its agreements with Washington.

Raids on villages, which frequently occur at night, have been a major strain on Karzai's relationship with the international military coalition. Karzai says they put civilians at risk of injury or death. Military officials say such operations are key to capturing and killing Taliban leaders.

However, presidential spokesman Faizi called the airstrike a "one-sided" decision that had not been coordinated with the Afghans. He said investigators told the president that Afghan forces had surrounded the house in question, but the U.S. troops decided not to wait for them to try to flush out the militants and called in aircraft instead.

Karzai and his advisers decided that if such incidents happened in the future they would consider them a breach of the special operations pact, the spokesman said. He said Kabul felt that the U.S. was not holding to the promises it made in that accord, as well as a larger strategic partnership agreement signed last month.


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