Afghans take over some security in Helmand

July 11, 2011 at 9:59 AM
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LASHKAR GAH, Afghanistan, July 11 (UPI) -- Handing over responsibility of checkpoints in Helmand province to Afghan police is a sign that transition is under way, a British military official said.

The NATO-led International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan has started handing over responsibility of provincial checkpoints to their Afghan counterparts. British forces said complete transition of security responsibility to Afghan forces in the provincial capital is expected in the coming weeks.

British marines Maj. Paul Maynard said Afghan troops and policemen have evolved into a stronger fighting force.

"This has been a positive move forward and is a clear demonstration that the informal transition of security is well under way," he was quoted by the British Ministry of Defense as saying.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai chose Helmand capital Lashkar Gah as one of the first in the country where his forces would start taking the lead in security operations. All of the Afghan forces are expected to handle national security by 2014.

The handover comes as U.S. and British forces start pulling their troops out of the country. British Prime Minister David Cameron announced last week that the number of British forces deployed to Afghanistan would drop by around 500 to 9,000 by the end of 2012.

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