US commandos hand over troubled area to Afghans
U.S. special operations forces handed over their base in a strategic district of eastern Afghanistan to local Afghan special forces on Saturday, senior U.S. commanders said.
The withdrawal satisfies a demand by Afghan President Hamid Karzai that U.S. forces leave the area after allegations that the Americans’ Afghan counterparts committed human rights abuses there on U.S. orders.
The transfer of authority ends a particularly rocky episode in the strained relations between the U.S. and Karzai. He had insisted that U.S. forces leave Nirkh district in Wardak province over the alleged torture, kidnapping and summary execution of militant suspects there — charges U.S. officials firmly denied.
The larger struggle of Karzai’s government to assert its authority over security matters, even as its green security forces try to assume control of much of the country from coalition forces on a rushed timeline, ahead of the scheduled withdrawal of most of coalition forces by December 2014.
“As we pledged, our forces have transitioned Nirkh district to Afghan national security forces and they have now assumed full responsibility for security in this key district,” Gen. Joseph Dunford, the top commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, said in a statement released Saturday. “The rest of Wardak will continue to transition over time as Afghan forces continue to grow in capability and capacity,” he added.—AP