US special operations forces and their Afghan counterparts will withdraw from a strategic eastern province after complaints that they were involved in human rights abuses.
American military officials have steadfastly denied the Afghan abuse allegations, which led President Hamid Karzai to demand the withdrawal of the US commandos from Wardak province despite fears that the decision could leave the area and neighbouring Kabul more vulnerable to attacks by al-Qa’ida and other insurgents.
The order calls for US special operations forces to leave Wardak’s Nerkh district, the area where the abuses allegedly occurred, along with the Afghan forces who work with them, to be replaced by regular Afghan troops or national police.
It was a symbolic victory for President Karzai, who has long complained that the special operations forces were outside his control. It is also expected to speed the handover of security in the troubled province.