Afghans forces in charge, vow to defend country
Marking the handover, a ceremony at the Presidential Palace was attended by President Ashraf Ghani and senior civil and military officials.
The move will test the readiness of 350,000 Afghan forces who will bear responsibility for fighting increasingly organised Taliban insurgents.
The US-led coalition troops formally ended their combat mission on Sunday more than 13 years after they toppled the Taliban regime in late 2001.
However, about 13,000 foreign troops, mostly Americans, will remain in the country under a new two-year mission named "Resolute Support" to train Afghan troops.
President Ghani congratulated the Afghans and said Afghan forces were now able to take full security responsibility in protecting their country's soil and sovereignty.
Senior security officials, who attended the ceremony, assured Afghan forces were well-prepared and capable to counter internal and external threats posed by terrorist groups and their supporters.
Speaking on the occasion, acting Defence Minister Inayatullah Nazari said Afghan forces had been fighting insurgents on their own for more than a year now.
He added Afghans were worried 2014 would witness more violence, but Afghan forces showed they had the ability to defend the country.
On behalf of Afghan National Army (ANA), he said the troops would defend the motherland at the cost of their blood.
Acting Interior Minister Mohammad Ayub Salangi praised Afghan forces for taking over security responsibility for the entire county from foreign troops.
Despite doubts and views, Salangi said, Afghan forces had been able to ensure the consultative Loya Jirga and both rounds of elections passed off peacefully.
Referring to police performances, he said, their professionalism had improved considerably, which he said was a matter of satisfaction for the Afghan people.
Salangi assured people of tight security throughout the country and said they would defeat the enemy in future as they did in the past.
National Directorate of Security (NDS) chief Rahmatullah Nabil said the security transition to Afghan forces initially faced some problems but it had successfully been completed. The transition period would now enter the era of transformation and improvement, he said.
“Today Afghan forces take over the combat mission and we assure our people that we will defeat terrorists and defend our country with cooperation of our countrymen,” he said.
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