Nato restricts air strikes on homes after 18 civilians die in Afghanistan


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The Independent Online

US-led forces in Afghanistan say they will be limiting air strikes against houses to self-defence for troops, following a strike last week that killed women and children alongside insurgents.

Such air strikes are now being designated a weapon of last resort to rescue soldiers, a spokesman for the alliance said yesterday.

Afghan officials have said 18 civilians were killed in an air strike on a home in eastern Afghanistan on Wednesday. President Hamid Karzai has criticised US forces for failing to consult their Afghan counterparts before targeting the house where insurgents had taken cover.

"We will continue to conduct combat operations against insurgents who use civilian dwellings, but we will not use air-delivered munitions against civilian dwellings unless it is a question of self-defence for our troops on the ground," said Lt Col Jimmie Cummings.

In future commanders will not be able to order a strike unless it is necessary to save the lives of their troops. This applies even if it is clear there is no threat to civilians.