Karzai rolls out transition plan

March 22, 2011 at 1:33 PM
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KABUL, Afghanistan, March 22 (UPI) -- NATO forces in Afghanistan will move to a supporting role in July in some provinces in Afghanistan, making room for Afghan forces, the president announced.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai last year said he wanted to see national forces take control over security in the country by 2014. U.S. military leaders said early this month that some of the transition could begin in July.

Karzai said the plans include the province of Panjshir and parts of the provinces of Kabul and Bamiyan, where the Taliban destroyed two sixth-century statues of Buddhas in March 2001.

"The Afghan nation doesn't want the defense of this country to be in the hands of others anymore," Karzai was quoted by al-Jazeera as saying.

The centerpiece of the transition is expected to occur in Lashkar Gah, the capital of Helmand province where Afghan forces are considered the strongest.

The International Crisis Group said forces outside of Lashkar Gah are poorly trained, however, and attrition rates are problematic for the Afghan military.

Nevertheless, Karzai said the transition was part of the emerging recovery under way in his country.

"The main aim of the international forces was not to assist Afghan democracy, but to wipe out the terror of the Taliban and al-Qaida," he said.

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