Petraeus' fresh guidelines to troops to reduce civilian casualties in Afghan war

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Kabul, Aug.5 (ANI): Amidst growing international concern over civilian casualties in the ongoing Afghan war, commander of the US and NATO forces General David Petraeus has issued fresh directives for the 150,000 international troops engaged in the 'war on terror'.

While pointing out that civilian casualties have undermined the efforts of the allied forces in Afghanistan, General Petraeus said that it was important to "redouble" efforts to reduce the loss of innocent lives.

"We must continue - indeed redouble - our efforts to reduce the loss of innocent civilian life to an absolute minimum. Every Afghan civilian death diminishes our cause," The Daily Times quoted Petraeus, as saying.

"If we use excessive force or operate contrary to our counter-insurgency principles, tactical victories may prove to be strategic setbacks," Petraeus' new directives, which were published by the NATO, stated.

According to the new rule, commanders on the field must make sure that no civilian is present in the region about to be targeted, however, no such conditions have been put on cases of 'self-defence'.

Petraeus, who took over the command from General Stanley McChrystal early last month, also stressed that it was important to assist the Afghan security forces in order to enhance their capability to be able to take control of the situation after the foreign troops hand over the responsibility to them.

The fresh guidelines also noted that some areas of concerns that may have led to misconceptions in the past regarding the Western forces' action have been duly clarified.

"The directive firmly places the presence of civilians at the centre of every decision involving the use of force," the statement said. (ANI)

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