KABUL, Afghanistan — The United States and NATO formally ended their war in Afghanistan on Sunday with a ceremony at their military headquarters in Kabul as the insurgency they fought to stamp out remains as ferocious and deadly as at any time since the 2001 invasion. The symbolic ceremony marked the end of the U.S.-led International Security Assistance Force, which will transition to a supporting role with 13,500 soldiers, most of them American, starting Jan. 1. Gen. John Campbell, commander of ISAF, rolled up and sheathed the green and white ISAF flag and unfurled the flag of the new international mission, called Resolute Support.
In front of an audience of Afghan and international military officers and officials, as well as diplomats and journalists, Campbell paid tribute to the troops who died fighting the insurgency. "The road before us remains challenging but we will triumph," he said. ISAF was set up after the U.S.-led invasion that unseated the Taliban regime following the Sept. 11 attacks as an umbrella for the coalition of around 50 nations that provided troops and took responsibility for security across the country.
From Jan. 1, the new mission will provide training and support for Afghanistan's military, with the U.S. accounting for almost 11,000 members of the residual force. President Ashraf Ghani, who took office in September, signed bilateral security agreements with Washington and NATO allowing the enduring military presence. The move has led to a spike in violence as the Taliban have claimed it as an excuse to step up operations aimed at destabilizing his government.
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