The new US military commander in Afghanistan is in favour of restricting the use of air strikes in the country to reduce the civilian deaths as he thinks that these casualties are undermining their mission.
In several interviews over the past few days, General Stanley McChrystal, who took charge last week, said that the use of air strikes during firefights in Afghanistan would mostly be allowed only to prevent US and other coalition troops from being overrun, The New York Times reported.
“When we shoot into a compound, that should only be for the protection of our forces,” NYT quoted McChrystal as saying.
He said that even in the cases of active firefights with Taliban forces, air strikes will be limited if the combat is taking place in populated areas, the very circumstances in which most of the civilian deaths have occurred.
His statement signaled tightening of rules for using air strikes which have killed hundreds of civilians.
A report released by the military last week on May 4 battle, which has killed at least 26 civilians, showed that a failure of US forces to follow procedures in air strikes “likely” lead to these deaths.
“Air power contains the seeds of our own destruction if we do not use it responsibly,” McChrystal told a group of his senior officers during a video conference last week adding, “We can lose this fight.”