NATO seems to have decided that if the Taliban take refuge in compounds or areas where there might be civilians that they will attack them by air and artillery in any event and blame the Taliban for using civilians "as shields". NATO has not changed their policy in spite of Karzai's complaints. It seems that Karzai really is unable to stop the practice even though it will likely make the situation worse for his government. NATO is more concerned about having troop casualties than it is about Afghan civilian casualties. It does not even count the latter as far as I know, mimicking the policy of the US and allies in Iraq.
Al Maliki's censure of US forces is equally as impotent as Karzai. Of course in both places the occupiers prate endlessly about establishing democracy while they do not allow even sovereignty. Maliki specifically gave up any control over US operations in Baghdad some while back.
Civilians Die In U.S.-NATO Air Assault In Afghanistan
By Griff Witte and Javed Hamdard
Washington Post Foreign Service
Sunday, July 1, 2007; A16
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, June 30 -- Just a week after Afghan President Hamid Karzai chastised international forces for being "careless," Afghan officials reported Saturday that possibly 100 or more civilians had been killed in a NATO and U.S.-led assault.
The battle in the southern Afghan province of Helmand, which was prompted by a Taliban ambush, began Friday night and continued into Saturday morning, Afghan officials said. It ended with international forces bombing several compounds in the remote village of Hyderabad.
"More than 100 people have been killed. But they weren't Taliban. The Taliban were far away from there," said Wali Khan, a member of parliament who represents the area. "The people are already unhappy with the government. But these kinds of killings of civilians will cause people to revolt against the government."
Another parliament member from Helmand, Mahmood Anwar, said that the death toll was close to 100 and that the dead included women and children. "Very few Taliban were killed," he said.
Spokesmen for the international forces acknowledged that civilians were killed in the battle, though they disputed the numbers. Maj. John Thomas, a spokesman for the NATO force, said the civilian death toll was "an order of magnitude less" than what Afghan officials reported.
Thomas said U.S. ground forces helping to carry out a NATO mission had come under fire by Taliban insurgents using small arms, rocket-propelled grenades and mortars. Thomas said the troops responded by firing on insurgents who were shooting from a compound and a network of trenches. U.S. helicopters and NATO bombers were later brought in for support, he said.
Thomas said troops returned to the area after the battle and found what appeared to be civilian bodies among the dead insurgents in the trenches. "This confirms for us again that militants are willing to fire from among civilians," he said.
"We are deeply saddened by any loss of innocent lives," U.S. Army Maj. Chris Belcher, a coalition forces spokesman, said in a statement. "Insurgents are continuing their tactic of using women and children as human shields in close combat."
Karzai has not accepted that argument, repeatedly criticizing international troops for not doing more to protect noncombatants. After a series of particularly deadly incidents in June that Karzai blamed on poor coordination, he told reporters that international troops would have to "work the way we ask them to work."
Violence has increased in recent months in Afghanistan, especially in Helmand. A NATO soldier was killed and another injured in a separate incident in the province Saturday. The force did not identify the soldiers' nationalities.
Elsewhere in Afghanistan on Saturday, three civilians were killed and seven injured when a Taliban rocket missed a NATO base in the eastern province of Kunar.
More than 2,800 people have been killed in violence in Afghanistan so far this year, compared with 4,000 killed in all of last year, according to a tally by the Associated Press. The AP counts hundreds of civilians killed. Slightly more have been killed by NATO and U.S.-led forces than by the Taliban, according to several independent assessments.
Hamdard reported from Kabul
and from Iraq also civilian casualties.....This is from gulfnews..
Al Maliki censures US forces after Sadr City raid kills 26
Published: July 01, 2007, 00:35
Baghdad: Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al Maliki condemned a US raid yesterday in Baghdad's Shiite Sadr City slum - a politically sensitive district for him - in which American troops searching for Iranian-linked militants sparked a firefight that left 26 Iraqis dead.
The US military said all those killed in the fighting were gunmen.
But residents said eight civilians were killed in their homes and angrily accused American troops of firing wildly during the pre-dawn assault.
Sadr City is the Iraqi capital's largest Shiite neighbourhood - home to some 2.5 million people - making US raids there potentially embarrassing for Al Maliki's Shiite-led government. The district is also the stronghold of the Mahdi Army, a militia loyal to anti-American cleric Moqtada Al Sadr, who was once Al Maliki's ally.
"The Iraqi government totally rejects US military operations ... conducted without prior approval from the Iraqi military command," Al Maliki said in a statement concerning the Sadr City raid. "Anyone who breaches the military command orders will face investigation."
Al Maliki last year banned military operations in Sadr City without his approval after complaints from his Shiite political allies. The ban frustrated US commanders pushing for a crackdown on the Mahdi Army.
Al Maliki later agreed that no area of the capital was off-limits, after US President George W. Bush ordered reinforcements to Iraq as part of the Baghdad security operation.
Also yesterday, the military announced that two American soldiers were charged with the premeditated murder of three Iraqis and with planting weapons on the bodies to cover up the slayings, which took place between April and June near Iskandariyah, 50km south of Baghdad.
23 dead in blast
Staff Sgt Michael A. Hensley from Candler, North Carolina, was jailed on Thursday in Kuwait, facing three counts each of premeditated murder, obstructing justice and wrongfully placing the weapons. Spc Jorge G. Sandoval, arrested at his home in Laredo, Texas, faces one count each of premeditated murder and planting a weapon, the military said.
In Muqdadiyah, 90km north of the capital, police said a suicide bomber blew himself up near a crowd of police recruits, killing at least 23 people and wounding 17.
The US military said it conducted two pre-dawn raids in Sadr City, killing 26 'terrorists' who attacked US troops with small arms fire, rocket-propelled grenades and roadside bombs. But Iraqi officials said all the dead were civilians.