Afghan security transfer expands

Nov. 27, 2011 at 2:13 PM

KABUL, Afghanistan, Nov. 27 (UPI) -- Afghanistan said Sunday its forces would assume control of 18 new areas of the country, including some where anti-government militants are still active.

The announcement marks the start of the second phase of the turnover of security responsibilities from the United States and its allies in the war-torn nation.

"We are ready for the second phase, and we're not alone, we also have the Afghan National Army," said Col. Ahmadullah Oria, the district police chief in the Sarobi district of Kabul province. "We may still need our international partners alongside us for training, for mentoring and for support when necessary."

Sarobi is one of the 18 areas being turned over to Afghan control by French commanders. It has been largely quiet for the past two years, although the Taliban still spring occasional ambushes along the main highway, The New York Times said.

Other areas being turned over include parts of Helmand province, the scene of a major offensive by U.S. Marines in 2010.

President Hamid Karzai issued a written statement saying the second phase of the turnover puts more than half of Afghanistan's population under the transition process, CNN said.

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