Karzai bans Afghan forces from seeking airstrikes

By the Associated Press | February 18, 2013 | 10:30 AM EST

Afghan President Hamid Karzai addesses military officers in Kabul, Afghanistan, Saturday, Feb. 16, 2013. Afghan President Hamid Karzai said Saturday he plans to issue a decree banning Afghan security forces from asking international troops to carry out airstrikes under ``any circumstances.” The announcement came amid anger over a joint Afghan-NATO operation this week that Afghan officials said killed 10 civilians, including women and children, in northeast Kunar province.(AP Photo/Ahmad Jamshid)

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — President Hamid Karzai has issued a decree banning Afghan security forces from requesting airstrikes during operations in residential areas.

Monday's order comes two days after Karzai announced plans for the decree amid anger over a NATO airstrike requested by the national intelligence service that killed at least 10 civilians.

Critics have expressed concerns that the ban will hobble Afghan troops who rely heavily on air support to gain the upper hand in the fight against insurgents on the ground.

But the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford, has said he believes the American-led NATO coalition can operate effectively under the terms of the ban.