Senior British military commanders in Afghanistan have been told to change their military tactics in the face of mounting civilian casualties.
Philip Alston, United Nations special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, warned Nato-led coalition forces, including Britain, that rules of engagement need to be revised or the coalition risks losing the war.
There was a worrying but growing perception among Afghans that the foreign forces were responsible for ‘indiscriminate killings’ and ‘mass rape’.
‘The struggle in Afghanistan is quintessentially at a point where popular support is crucial,’ Alston said. ‘My view is that it is being significantly undermined by the strong perception among the Afghan public that the allied forces are killing significant numbers of civilians with no accountability at all, even if that perception is exaggerated.’
Nato’s military command needed to alter its approach if it was to win popular support and triumph. Alston accused officials of blocking his attempts to discover details of the rules of engagement under which Nato troops were fighting.
‘There has been no acknowledgement from Nato that there is a problem in relation to civilian casualties and how it is dealt with and still there is no transparency on the issue.’
Afghan president Hamid Karzai has ordered that any foreign military operations be subject to a new set of rules enforceable under international law. >>>