The United States says it will not halt air strikes in Afghanistan as
demanded by President Hamid Karzai, even though they are blamed for the
deaths of hundreds of civilians across the country.
White House National Security Adviser James Jones said Sunday that further bombing raids are possible. He told U.S. television (ABC)
that U.S. forces fighting Taliban militants cannot operate "with one
hand tied behind their back." But he said the U.S. will "redouble" its
efforts to limit civilian casualties.
The Afghan leader has called for a stop to the U.S. military air
attacks, which he says killed up to 130 civilians in the western Farah
province last week.
But the U.S. military said a joint investigation with Afghan
authorities shows Taliban militants used civilians as human shields. It
said the number of victims could not be determined because all the
bodies were buried before investigators arrived.
Also Sunday on U.S. television (Fox News), the chief of
U.S. forces in Central Asia and the Middle East, General David
Petraeus, said the military will study the use of air strikes in
Afghanistan. The general said U.S. forces must ensure their tactics do
not undermine strategic U.S. goals.
Afghan officials complain that civilian casualties caused by U.S.
forces undermine the public's faith in the Afghan-U.S. alliance against
In another interview (on CNN), Petraeus said al-Qaida no
longer has bases in Afghanistan after suffering what he called "very
serious" losses in the last six to 10 months. However, he said
affiliates of the group still have "enclaves and sanctuaries" on the
Afghan-Pakistani border, and that the militants primarily operate out
of western Pakistan's lawless tribal regions.