|Stop killing civilians or strategic pact is off, Karzai tells U.S.||
On Monday, Karzai summoned the commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan, General John Allen, and US Ambassador Ryan Crocker to warn them that civilian casualties in military operations threatened the pact, AFP reported.
On May 1, 2012, Washington and Kabul signed an agreement to extend the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan to 2024.
Shortly after arriving in the war-torn country in an unannounced trip late at night on May 1, U.S. President Barack Obama met Karzai, and both signed the deal that authorizes the presence of U.S. troops for a period of 10 years after 2014, which was the original date agreed upon for the departure of all foreign combat troops from Afghanistan, Press TV reported.
A statement from Karzai's office said that since Saturday, dozens of Afghan civilians, including women and children, had been killed in NATO airstrikes in four provinces -- Logar and Helmand in the south, Kapisa in the east, and Badghis in the northwest.
The statement said that President Karzai signed the pact with the U.S. to protect the lives of Afghans and if civilian deaths are not prevented, the pact will lose its validity.
"If the lives of Afghans are not protected, the strategic partnership will lose its meaning," the statement quoted Karzai as saying.
Meanwhile, on Tuesday U.S.-led forces admitted that at least six Afghan civilians were killed in their last week airstrike in Helmand province.
NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) confirmed the death of the victims, all members of the same family, in the May 4 attack.
"At this point in the investigation we are able to confirm the incident and will be formally apologizing in the next couple of days to the family," Lieutenant Colonel Stewart Upton of ISAF's southwest regional command stated.
The Helmand provincial governor's office issued a statement saying that the family was killed in an airstrike last Friday after ISAF checkpoints came under attack in the Sangin district.
"Unfortunately six members of the family including two boys, three girls and one woman were killed as a result of the incident," the statement said.
U.S.-led troops have been fighting in Afghanistan since 2001. Their initial offensive removed the Taliban from power, but insecurity continues to rise across the country despite the presence of about 130,000 foreign forces.
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