“Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the top American commander in Afghanistan, has brought most American Special Operations forces under his direct control for the first time, out of concern over continued civilian casualties and disorganization among units in the field.
…Critics, including Afghan officials, human rights workers and some field commanders of conventional American forces, say that Special Operations forces have been responsible for a large number of the civilian casualties in Afghanistan and operate by their own rules.
…General McChrystal has made reducing civilian casualties a cornerstone of his new counterinsurgency strategy, and his campaign has had some success: last year, civilian deaths attributed to the United States military were cut by 28 percent, although there were 596 civilian deaths attributed to coalition forces, according to United Nations figures. Afghan and United Nations officials blame Special Operations troops for most of those deaths.
â€œIn most of the cases of civilian casualties, special forces are involved,â€ said Mohammed Iqbal Safi, head of the defense committee in the Afghan Parliament, who participated in joint United States-Afghan investigations of civilian casualties last year. â€œWeâ€™re always finding out they are not obeying the rules that other forces have to in Afghanistan.â€
â€œThese forces often operate with little or no accountability and exacerbate the anger and resentment felt by communities,â€ the Human Rights Office of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan wrote in its report on protection of civilians for 2009. "
2010-03-16 06:20:40 UTC