| ||Afghan, U.S. military agree on further coordination to avoid civilian casualties|
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The government of Afghanistan and the U.S.-led Coalition forces have agreed to work in harmony in order to avoid harming non-combatants, a joint press release issued in Kabul Saturday said.
"In an ongoing endeavor to increase partnered operations and develop Afghan capability to defeat terrorists and adversaries the officials have agreed to include more Afghan representatives in the planning and execution of counter-terrorism missions, with more attention to night operations, actions in populated areas and searches," the press release added.
"There will be better coordination to minimize risk of civilian casualties and ensure Afghans search Afghan and conduct arrest operations," it said.
This agreement occurred in the wake of strong criticism by Afghan people particularly President Hamid Karzai over the past couple of years.
The joint press release issued after conducting a series of consultations and discussions between Afghan Defense Minister Abdul Rahim Wardak and the U.S. General David McKiernan the commander of both U.S. and NATO troops serving in Afghanistan.
According to news reports, from January to August in 2008, a total of 1,445 civilian casualties has recorded. This represents an increase of almost 39 percent on the 1040 civilian deaths recorded in the same period on 2007 during military operations against Taliban-linked insurgency.
Afghan President in a stern warning said last month that civilian casualties would not be tolerated anymore.
He also stressed that search of suspected houses must be conducted by Afghans or in coordination with Afghan authorities.
"We will work together as a team to defeat a common enemy. It is in the collective national security interests of the Afghans and coalition to secure Afghanistan, with more and more of that security being accomplished by ANSF (Afghanistan National Security Forces) over time.
Afghan President said that harming civilians would neither serve the Afghan government nor the U.S.-led war on terror.
"Maintaining the support of the Afghan people is essential to defeating the terrorists," said the joint press release.