U.S. troops in Afghanistan have been ordered to halt some joint operations with Afghan security forces after a spate of attacks by their local allies and amid fallout from a controversial anti-Islam video, CNN reported.
"In response to an increased threat situation as a result of the 'Innocence of Muslims' video, plus the recent insider attacks, ISAF forces are increasing their vigilance and carefully reviewing all activities and interactions with the local population," said Maj. Lori Hodge, a spokeswoman for NATO's International Security Assistance Force, said early Tuesday.
"We adjust our force protection measures based on the threat. If the threat level goes down, we could see a rolling back on this decision."
The "Innocence of Muslims" video, which was privately produced in the United States, mocks the Prophet Mohammed as a womanizer, child molester and killer.
The U.S. government condemned the video, which spurred deadly protests in several countries, including Afghanistan.
On Tuesday, for example, an insurgent group carried out a suicide attack that killed eight foreigners and their interpreter in Kabul, saying it was in response to the film.
A second factor behind the joint operations suspension is the number of so-called "green-on-blue" attacks in the country.
More than 50 coalition troops were killed between January and mid-August in instances where uniformed Afghans turned their guns on allied troops.
On Monday, the Pentagon said that NATO Commander Marine Gen. John Allen had ordered commanders "to review force protection and tactical activities."
Allen's guidance was given at the recommendation of key Afghan leaders, Hodge said.
"This will likely lead to adjustments in exactly how, when and where ISAF troops operate, especially during the current period of heightened tension," she said.
Over the weekend, four Americans and two British troops were gunned down in attacks believed to involve Afghan police.
In addition, insurgents disguised in U.S. Army uniforms carried out a coordinated assault Friday at a joint American-British base in the same region, raising concerns that the attackers had inside knowledge. That attack destroyed six AV-8B Harrier jets and left two others damaged, international forces said.
The halt comes weeks after U.S. Special Operations forces suspended the training of some Afghan Local Police recruits while it double-checks the background of the current police force.
"Green-on-blue" refers to a color coding system used by the military, in which blue refers to the friendly force and green refers to allied forces. The spate of green-on-blue attacks come as American and NATO troops are training Afghan soldiers and police to maintain security within the country ahead of the planned end of allied combat operations in 2014.
In August, Allen estimated about a quarter of the attacks were being carried out by infiltrators from the Taliban, the Islamic militia that ruled most of Afghanistan before the U.S.-led invasion in 2001. An earlier Pentagon review that said about 10% were by Taliban forces that had sneaked into Afghan military and police ranks.
"It's less about the precision of 25 versus 10 than it is acknowledging that the Taliban are seeking ultimately to have some impact in the formation," Allen said.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai has blamed the attacks on foreign spy agencies hoping to undermine Afghan security institutions, but he did not specifically identify any countries.