French army hands over key province to Afghan forces

The French military Wednesday handed over a key Afghan province to local forces, completing an important stage in France's accelerated withdrawal from the war-torn country.

The province of Kapisa was the last area of Afghanistan under the control of French troops, the bulk of whom are due to leave by the end of 2012, two years earlier than the main NATO deadline.

France is the fifth largest contributor to NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), which is due to pull out the vast majority of its 130,000 forces by the end of 2014.

Kapisa, an extremely unstable province where French troops have suffered numerous deadly attacks from the Taliban, lies to the northeast of Kabul, near the insurgent-infested provinces of Kunar and Nuristan.

In 2011, 24 French soldiers were killed in Afghanistan, all in Kapisa.

The handover, marked on Wednesday by a ceremony in the provincial capital Mahmood-e-Raqi, will have little noticeable effect on the ground, where the French soldiers will continue to help train local forces as preparations for the pullout go ahead.

Wednesday's ceremony "lets everyone see that Afghans are taking over their security. But it is above all a symbol and does not change the transition process", a French security source told AFP.

Before his election in May, Hollande promised to speed up France's withdrawal from Afghanistan so it would be completed by the end of 2012 -- a year earlier than Paris initially planned and two years before the NATO deadline.

France plans to withdraw 2,000 troops fighting with ISAF against the decade-long Taliban insurgency this year, leaving behind around 1,500 soldiers to train local forces and help organise the return of military equipment.

On Tuesday Pakistan agreed to reopen overland supply routes to Afghanistan from its Arabian Sea port of Karachi, seven months after closing them in protest at a US air raid that killed 24 of its soldiers.

The end of the blockade, which came after US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said sorry for the deaths, will greatly ease the process of withdrawing 10 years' worth of military equipment from Afghanistan.

Many observers have serious doubts about the ability of Afghan security forces to maintain security and keep the Taliban at bay after the NATO withdrawal.

Kapisa, strategically located near the Afghan capital and close to the border with the Pakistani tribal areas which are a Taliban heartland, has the potential to become a real headache for Kabul.

But Francois Guillermet, spokesman for the French army in Afghanistan, insisted local forces were capable of containing the insurgents.

Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • Philippines seeks stronger commitment from U.S. in South China Sea dispute
    Philippines seeks stronger commitment from U.S. in South China Sea dispute

    The Philippines is seeking a "stronger commitment" from the United States to help its ally, the defence minister said on Monday, as China asserts its sovereignty over disputed areas of the South China Sea. China claims most of the South China Sea, through which $5 trillion in ship-borne trade passes every year, and the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei have overlapping claims. China said on Monday it had lodged a complaint with the United States over a U.S. spy plane that flew …

  • Aquino: Philippines to fly usual routes over disputed reefs

    MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Philippine aircraft will continue to fly their usual routes over disputed reefs in the South China Sea, the country's president said Monday, defying China's challenges to its planes and those of the United States. …

  • Philippines to fly over disputed South China Sea: Aquino
    Philippines to fly over disputed South China Sea: Aquino

    Philippine military and commercial aircraft will keep flying over disputed areas in the South China Sea despite Chinese warnings over the airspace, President Benigno Aquino said on Monday. "We will still fly the routes that we fly based on the international law from the various conventions we entered into," Aquino told reporters when asked whether the Philippines accepted China's position. The Chinese military last week ordered a US Navy P-8 Poseidon surveillance plane away from airspace …

  • Mitsubishi reaches out to far-flung Batad community
    Mitsubishi reaches out to far-flung Batad community

    A “Dadbod” is a newly coined term now trending in media. It was introduced to the world by Clemson University sophomore Mackenzie Pearson as she refers to any man—father or bachelor—with a physique that’s a “nice balance between a beer gut and working out.” “It’s more human, natural, and attractive,” she adds. For this writer, […] The post Mitsubishi reaches out to far-flung Batad community appeared first on Carmudi Philippines. …

  • A weekend of premium cars
    A weekend of premium cars

    Good news to all luxury car fanatics as PGA Cars, the exclusive importer and distributor of Audi, Porsche, Lamborghini and Bentley cars in the country, will be holding the PGA Cars Premium Festival from May 29 to May 31 at the PGA Center in Global City in Taguig. The 3-day event will showcase PGA’s latest […] The post A weekend of premium cars appeared first on Carmudi Philippines. …

  • APEC ministers to endorse Boracay Action Agenda
    APEC ministers to endorse Boracay Action Agenda

    Trade ministers at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting in Boracay, Aklan agreed yesterday to endorse the proposed Boracay Action Agenda to the member countries’ leaders, presenting opportunities for global trade for micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs). In a press conference following the conclusion of the APEC Ministers Responsible for Trade Meeting, Trade Secretary Gregory Domingo, who also served as chairman, said ministers agreed to recommend the adoption of the …

  • Talks with China over sea row urged
    Talks with China over sea row urged

    The Philippines should engage China in bilateral talks in its efforts to maintain peace and order at the disputed West Philippine Sea, Sen. Francis Escudero said yesterday. Escudero supports the government’s move to bring the issue before international arbitration but also stressed the need for the Philippines to pursue talks with China. Escudero made the statement after UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Friday called for a peaceful solution to territorial disputes in the South China Sea. …

  • House panel tackles bill on regular disaster drills
    House panel tackles bill on regular disaster drills

    The House committee on national defense is deliberating on a measure mandating the regular conduct of disaster risk reduction drills in educational institutions nationwide. Authored by Camarines Sur Rep. Rolando Andaya Jr., the bill mandates that risk reduction drills be held annually in all educational institutions throughout the country in coordination with the schools’ respective local government units. “The Philippines’ location along the Pacific Ring of Fire and close to the equator …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options