Afghanistan takes over security lead nationwide
Afghan national forces on Tuesday formally took lead responsibility for security in the last remaining areas of the country, completing the handover from international troops, officials said, dpa reported.
"The security responsibility will now fall on Afghan troops," President Hamid Karzai said in a ceremony at the Afghan Military Academy in the outskirts of Kabul amid heightened security.
NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen called the handover a "milestone."
"We can all be proud that.. Afghan forces today are taking the lead on security. They are doing so with remarkable resolve," he said.
NATO combat troops will now move into a supporting role, ahead of their full withdrawal by the end of next year.
"As your forces step forward across the country, the main effort of our forces is shifting from combat to support," Rasmussen said. "We will continue to help Afghan troops in operations if needed."
"But we will no longer plan, execute or lead those operations... We still have 18 months of hard work ahead. And we must keep up the momentum."