NATO and US-led troops in Afghanistan have agreed to include more Afghans in counter-terrorism operations to improve coordination and minimise civilian casualties, the military said on Friday.
The agreement was reached after consultations between Defence Minister Abdul Rahim Wardak and the top international commander in Afghanistan, US General David McKiernan, a joint statement said.
Tensions have increased between Afghanistan and its Western allies over mounting civilian casualties as a result of military operations and nighttime house searches that Afghans say are aggressive and intrusive.
They agreed “to include more Afghan representatives in the planning and execution of counter-terrorism missions, with more attention to night operations, actions in populated areas and searches,” the statement said.
“There will be better coordination to minimise risk of civilian casualties and ensure Afghans search Afghans and conduct arrest operations,” it said.
“Maintaining the support of the Afghan people is essential to defeating the terrorists.”
President Hamid Karzai has warned that civilian casualties and the conduct of NATO and US-led forces are angering Afghans and could lead to public rejection of the foreign military presence.