NATO formally ended its war in Afghanistan on Sunday, holding a low-key ceremony in Kabul after 13 years of conflict that have left the country in the grip of worsening insurgent violence. The event was arranged in secret due to the threat of Taliban strikes in the Afghan capital, which has been hit by repeated suicide bombings and gun attacks over recent years. "Together... we have lifted the Afghan people out of the darkness of despair and given them hope for the future," NATO combat mission commander US General John Campbell told assembled soldiers. "You've made Afghanistan stronger and our countries safer." On January 1, the transatlantic alliance's US-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) combat mission, which has suffered 3,485 military deaths since 2001, will be replaced by a NATO "training and support" mission. About 12,500 foreign troops staying in Afghanistan will not be involved in direct fighting, but will assist the Afghan army and police in their battle against the Taliban, who ruled from 1996 until 2001. When numbers peaked in 2011, about 130,000 troops from 50 nations were part of the NATO military alliance. "I hope you take great pride in the positive impact you've made and will continue to make upon the Afghan people," Campbell said in a speech released by ISAF on Twitter as live broadcasts were banned for security reasons. Campbell folded up the ISAF flag and unveiled the flag of the new mission, named Resolute Support. A new US mission, Operation Freedom's Sentinel, will focus on training, advising and assisting Afghan troops, as well as on counterterrorism. US President Barack Obama praised the "milestone" end of the combat mission. He warned, however, that "Afghanistan remains a dangerous place, and the Afghan people and their security forces continue to make tremendous sacrifices in defense of their country." US troops "will continue to face risks" in Afghanistan, Obama said, emphasizing "the enduring commitment of the United States to the Afghan people." US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel lauded the "hard and heroic work" of American troops in America's longest war, saying they "made our world safer." - Taliban strength - Sunday's ceremony -- held in a sports hall at NATO headquarters -- completed the gradual handover of responsiblity to the 350,000-strong Afghan forces, who have been in charge of nationwide security since last year. But recent bloodshed has undermined claims that the insurgency is weakening and has highlighted fears that the international intervention has failed as Afghanistan faces spiralling violence. The United Nations says that civilian casualties hit a record high in 2014, jumping by 19 percent with 3,188 civilians killed by the end of November. Afghan's police and army have also suffered a grim death toll, with fatalities soaring to more than 4,600 in the first 10 months of 2014 -- far higher than all ISAF deaths since 2001. "The US and NATO mission was an absolute failure as today's ceremony shows," Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told AFP. "They are fleeing from Afghanistan. They have not reached their goals in defeating the Afghan mujahideen." - Afghan forces up to task? - US and Afghan commanders insist the national security forces can hold the line against the Taliban despite concerns of a repeat of Iraq, where an American-trained army virtually collapsed in the face of a jihadist onslaught. "Our sons and daughters of ANSF (Afghan National Security Forces) are in the lead, fighting to protect security interests. God willing, they will prevail," national security adviser Mohmmad Hanif Atmar said at the ceremony. Since 2001, billions of dollars of aid have been spent in Afghanistan on new schools, hospitals, roads and promoting women's rights, but corruption has been endemic and progress limited, even in the cities. This year's presidential election, which was meant to be the keystone legacy of the development effort, was marred by fraud and a prolonged standoff between the two poll rivals that fanned further unrest. Ashraf Ghani eventually emerged as the new president in a power-sharing deal with Abdullah Abdullah. But their "unity government" has failed to appoint any new ministers three months after taking power. Ghani hopes to bring peace to Afghanistan after decades of conflict, saying he is open to talks with any insurgent group. Hamid Karzai, president from 2001 until 2014, opened preliminary contacts with the Taliban but they collapsed acrimoniously last year. The US will continue to provide some air support for the Afghan military, and may extend operations if required to prevent rapid Taliban advances. Recent insurgent targets in Kabul have included foreign guesthouses, diplomatic convoys and Afghan army buses.
Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting
- LA Times
At least one of the camera operators complained last weekend to production managers about gun safety on the set.
Lawyer for Brian Laundrie's family addresses speculation about how easily his dad found his belongings, saying the public 'doesn't understand simplicity'
Brian Laundrie's parents could not have planted his remains or had special knowledge about where they were, the family lawyer said.
- CBS News
The discovery came after a weeks-long manhunt following the death of Gabby Petito.
- Idaho Statesman
With six No. 1 country songs to tap, this concert should be a crowd pleaser.
Her majesty has a long list of future successors.
Peter Scolari, the prolific television and stage actor who found instant fame and a lifelong friendship with Tom Hanks when the two co-starred in the hit 1980 TV comedy Bosom Buddies, died early Friday morning following a two-year battle with cancer. He was 66. His death was announced by Ellen Lubin Sanitsky at Wright Entertainment. […]
- The Daily Beast
Vanderburgh County Sheriff's OfficeA 36-year-old Indiana woman is behind bars after police discovered two people tied up and shackled in her home—one of them “deceased and beyond help.”The woman, identified by Evansville authorities as Heidi Carter, faces a string of charges in connection with the Tuesday night incident, which police say took even them by surprise.It all began after a woman flagged down an Indiana state trooper late Tuesday night, saying she’d stopped by Carter’s home only to fi
- Washington Examiner
Actor Alec Baldwin was distraught and shocked after fatally shooting a crew member on the set of his latest movie, asking repeatedly why he was given a "hot gun," according to a new report.
IATSE Local 44, which covers prop masters, said a single bullet struck both the cinematographer and the director on set.
Road rage bubbled as the track temperature rose in the second practice session for United States Grand Prix on Friday as Max Verstappen called title rival Lewis Hamilton a "stupid idiot".
- The Daily Beast
YouTube/ABCA family of three found dead on a Northern California hiking trail in August died of heat exposure and possible dehydration, the local sheriff’s office revealed Thursday.“Heat-related deaths are extremely difficult to investigate,” Mariposa County Sheriff Jeremy Briese said at a press conference, citing an official cause of death of “hyperthermia and probably dehydration.”The bodies of John Gerrish, Ellen Chung, and their 1-year-old daughter Muji were found mid-August on the Savage Lu
At least 4 other bodies were found during the almost 2-month search for Gabby Petito and Brian Laundrie
Authorities looking for the couple in Alabama, Wyoming, North Carolina, and Colorado have inadvertently discovered other remains.
- Business Insider
'I've lost my joy': Anti-vax Republican, who worked for the Trump campaign and embraced QAnon, says she has COVID-19
Lauren Witzke, the 2020 GOP candidate for US Senate in Delaware, told followers she had "lost all of my senses."
- Atlanta Black Star
A 4-foot-8 Black Woman Was Accosted By Group of Boys, Minutes Later a Louisiana Deputy Was Flinging Her By Her Hair In Shocking Video; Investigation Launched
An investigation has been launched in a New Orleans suburb after a video captured a Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office deputy flinging a 4-foot-8 Black woman […]
Meadow Walker and Louis Thornton-Allan confirmed their relationship in July and a month later revealed they were engaged
The actor fired a prop weapon that killed a crew member and injured the director on the set of his film "Rust."
- NBC Sports Boston
Former Patriots tight end Martellus Bennett didn't hold back on this take about Jimmy Garoppolo while discussing the 2016 season with Devin McCourty and his brother, Jason.
- Madame Noire
The Haugabooks responded to all the criticism they have received about their age difference.
- Women's Health
Emma Watson wore a crop top that revealed her bra and her toned abs to meet Al Gore. The actress works out with celeb trainer Emily Drew for 30-minute sessions.
'She Started Screaming': Controversial Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene Spars with Liz Cheney on House Floor
"They got into a back and forth about 'Jewish space lasers,' " Maryland Rep. Jamie Raskin told reporters after the altercation — as Greene says she was criticizing the Capitol riot investigation "witch hunt"