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Thursday, January 21, 2010
AP Exclusive: US to tighten Afghan raid rules - Yahoo! News
"KABUL – The top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan plans to tighten the rules on night raids, The Associated Press has learned, in a new step to curb public anger over perceived violations against civilians. Such raids have emerged as the No. 1 complaint among Afghans after Gen. Stanley McChrystal curbed the use of airstrikes and other weaponry last year. NATO spokesman Rear Adm. Gregory Smith told the AP a new directive would be issued soon to set down new rules for night raids. "It addresses the issue that's probably the most socially irritating thing that we do and that is entering people's homes at night," he said Wednesday. He would not elaborate pending a formal announcement. The U.S.-led force has become increasingly sensitive to complaints by Afghan civilians as part of a renewed effort to win support among the public and lure people away from the Taliban. Last year McChrystal curbed the use of airpower and heavy weapons if civilians could be put at risk. Smith said complaints about civilian deaths from airstrikes had dropped sharply after McChrystal's order last year but Afghans are "not seeing enough difference in our nighttime operations." He acknowledged the possible tactical difficulties but said the problem needed to be addressed in the effort to win the confidence of Afghan civilians and keep them from supporting the Taliban."