Afghan officials expected to press US for veto power over controversial night raids

Washington, Mar 22 (ANI): Officials in Afghanistan are likely to press their US counterparts for veto power over controversial night raids on Afghan homes as well as warrants signed by a judge before the operations are carried out, according to a report.

According to some officials, Afghanistan's decision to veto power on raids is expected to be the country's opening position in formal negotiations set to begin on Thursday, The Washington Post reports.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai has long insisted to end the raids, which US commanders consider one of their most effective tools against Taliban insurgents.

Karzai repeated his demand in angry remarks after a March 11 shooting rampage, allegedly carried out by a US soldier, that killed 16 Afghan civilians.

"We saw his comments, but we've been reassured since then," a senior U.S. defense official said of Karzai.

According to the paper, Karzai has deemed the over 2,000 night operations conducted by US Special Operations forces last year as a violation of Afghan sovereignty and culture, and a cause of civilian casualties.

Afghan officials say that they are "in the lead" in about 60 percent of the raids, but thatUS troops are effectively in control of all of them because they provide the intelligence on which targets are selected and which operations are planned, often without giving that information to Afghan partners in advance.

US forces also provide the logistics, including specialized helicopters, that make the raids possible.

According to the paper, Afghans says that without these capabilities the only way they can be in charge of the operations, with U.S. forces in a supporting role, is with full information that allows them to approve, or veto, the raids in advance.

Karzai also called for US withdrawal from Afghan towns and villages where small Special Operations units are organizing local protection forces. (ANI)