U.S., Afghanistan sign key 'night raids' deal

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  1. ejazr

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    U.S., Afghanistan sign key 'night raids' deal - CNN

    The United States and Afghanistan signed a landmark deal Sunday that affords Afghan authorities an effective veto over controversial special operations raids.

    A bid to end visceral Afghan anger over raids on private residences, the deal prevents NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) from conducting such operations without the explicit permission of Afghan officials, said a senior NATO official.

    It was not clear, however, whether the deal ceded 100% of U.S. capabilities over special forces operations, ISAF's key tactic against the insurgency.

    From now on, an Afghan review group will have to authorize an operation before it goes ahead, the official said.

    And special operations forces will operate under Afghan law, said a statement from the presidential palace.

    Afghan Defense Minister Abdul Rahim Wardak and ISAF commander Gen. John Allen signed the agreement at the Afghan foreign ministry Sunday afternoon.

    "The Afghan special operations unit has developed at extraordinary speed" and is "manned by courageous and capable operators," Allen said at the ceremony. "Today we are on an important step closer to our shared goal of a secure and sovereign Afghanistan. Together we will realize this vision."

    U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker said the agreement was an "important illustration" of partnership.

    "We are making sure this transition is not abrupt, but a path marked by benchmarks and steps that build Afghan capacity," Crocker said in a statement. "This (agreement) marks another major step towards our goal of ensuring a stable, secure and sovereign Afghanistan and of forging an enduring partnership with the government and people of Afghanistan."

    The key deal comes after months of recriminations against special operations raids, particularly at night, that deeply offend Afghans, as they involve foreigners entering their homes.

    U.S. officials say the raids are vital to NATO's operation against insurgents.

    The complex system will fully "Afghanize" the operations, putting Afghan commandos in the lead and giving American special forces a "training and support role," a senior Afghan official said.

    The official said the deal mandates a committee of Afghan officials with U.S. input, known as the Operational Coordination Group, to review U.S. intelligence on a target before a raid.
     
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