KABUL -- President Hamid Karzai declared yesterday that NATO aircraft can no longer fire on homes under any circumstances, an indication that the conflict over NATO airstrikes that kill civilians, including one that left 18 dead last week, remains unresolved.

Following an outcry over the attack in Logar province that killed children, teenagers and adults NATO imposed new limits on airstrikes aimed at houses, but still wants to use them to defend troops on the ground.

Karzai and the coalition met last weekend to discuss airstrikes that have inadvertently killed Afghan civilians, a politically heated issue. Then the two sides offer different interpretations about what they agreed upon at the meeting.

The dispute highlights the sensitive relationship between the international force and Karzai. On countless occasions, he has denounced airstrikes that have caused civilian deaths and he says repeatedly the war on terrorism cannot be won, in Afghan villages.

"An agreement has been reached clearly with NATO that no bombardment of civilian homes for any reason is allowed," Karzai said defiantly at a news conference at the presidential palace in Kabul.

"Even when they are under attack, they [coalition forces] cannot use an airplane to bomb Afghan homes," he said. To underscore his point, he repeated: "Even when they are under attack."

Airstrikes on homes are a small part of international operations in Afghanistan, yet they have brewed intense resentment among Afghans, who feel they employ a disproportionate use of force and put civilians at risk in their own homes.

The international force operates under a UN mandate, and while Afghan forces partner with coalition troops on night raids, it is coalition commanders who authorize airstrikes.

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