Incoming commander of US and NATO forces in Afghanistan General Stanley McChrystal met today with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, and as has been the case with most recent meetings with the Afghan leader the major topic of conversation has been the massive civilian toll.
Karzai promised the full cooperation of the government, but underscored his impatience with the all too common incidents by insisting that McChrystal’s most important mission was to protect Afghan civilians. McChrystal promised to take “practical measures” to prevent killing civilians.
Such promises have been themselves quite common in Afghanistan, most notably in the wake of August’s US air strike in the Herat Province, which killed 90 civilians, and last month’s Farah Province strike which killed another 140.
Though the military has changed its official procedures a number of times, the number and severity of incidents has been worsening over time. In the wake of the Farah killings, officials have said that the military failed to follow the rules it had put in place after the Herat killings, so it remains unclear if the procedures would actually work if put into practice.
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