KABUL, Afghanistan – The U.S. and NATO have ceremonially ended their combat mission in Afghanistan, 13 years after the Sept. 11 terror attacks sparked their invasion of the country to topple the Taliban-led government.
NATO's International Security Assistance Force Joint Command, which was in charge of combat operations, lowered its flag Monday, formally ending its deployment.
U.S. Gen. John F. Campbell, commander of NATO and U.S. forces, says the mission is transitioning to a training and support role. He says from Jan. 1, the coalition will maintain a force of 13,000 troops in Afghanistan, down from a peak around 140,000 in 2011.
The mission ends as the Taliban is increasing its attacks. U.S. President Barack Obama recently allowed U.S. forces to launch operations against both Taliban and al-Qaida militants amid the training mission.