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Afghan Forces To Be Barred From Calling In Air Strikes

Afghan President Hamid Karzai speaks at Kabul's National Military Academy on February 16.
President Hamid Karzai has said Afghan security forces will be banned from calling for NATO air strikes in residential areas to help in their operations.

Speaking at Kabul's National Military Academy on February 16, Karzai said he will issue a decree on February 17 that "none of the Afghan military forces, under any condition can call in foreigners' air support during the military operations on our villages."

The announcement comes after 10 civilians and four Taliban fighters reportedly died in an air strike by coalition forces in the eastern province of Konar on February 13.

Afghan security forces increasingly assume control of security from international forces ahead of their complete withdraw by the end of 2014.

Civilian casualties inflicted by NATO forces are a highly sensitive issue and are regularly condemned by Karzai.

The Afghan government on February 13 welcomed U.S. President Barack Obama's announcement that the United States would withdraw more than half of its troops from Afghanistan over the next year in anticipation of the international coalition concluding its combat mission by the end of 2014.

Based on reporting by Reuters, AP, and RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan