The News Minute | January 2, 2015 | 7:15 am IST
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani announced on Thursday that the country's forces took over security responsibilities from the US-led coalition forces, which ended their 13-year-long combat mission in Afghanistan on Sunday.
President Ghani hailed the official transition of security responsibilities from the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO)-led international forces to the Afghan troops, according to media reports on Thursday.
"I want to congratulate my people today that Afghan forces are now able to take full security responsibility in protecting their country's soil and sovereignty," Ghani said at the presidential palace in Kabul.
"We will not allow our soil to be used against our neighbours and we do expect (the) same from our neighbours," he added, hinting at the Afghan officials' frequent complaints of neighbouring Pakistan allegedly hosting pro-Taliban terrorists within its borders and providing them with logistical and intelligence support.
The transition came while Afghanistan has witnessed a surge in militant attacks after Kabul signed the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) with the US and another controversial deal with the NATO.
The US and its allies invaded Afghanistan in 2001 as part of Washington's war on terror, following the Sep 11, 2001, terror strikes on the US. The offensive toppled the Taliban from power, but insecurity remained across Afghanistan despite the presence of the US-led troops.
During the past 13 years, more than 3,500 servicemen, some 2,200 of them Americans, have lost their lives in Afghanistan.
However, even after the official assumption of security responsibility by the Afghan forces, some 13,000 NATO servicemen, including 10,800 Americans, are to remain in the country in 2015 to train and advise the Afghan national security forces.
NATO's mission, "Resolute Support", and the security agreement signed between Afghanistan and the US sanction the presence of 10,800 US soldiers and 3,000 to 4,000 more soldiers of the Atlantic Alliance against the maximum of 140,000 foreign troops in 2011.