The United States (US) began its withdrawal from Afghanistan in earnest, officials said yesterday, sending the first of what will be tens of thousands of containers home through a once-blocked land route through Pakistan.
The shipment of 50 containers over the weekend came as a new US commander took control of US and NATO forces in Afghanistan to guide the coalition through the end stages of a war that has so far lasted more than 11 years.
The containers were in the first convoys to cross into Pakistan as part of the Afghan pull out, said Marcus Spade, a spokesman for US forces in Afghanistan.
Marine General Joseph Dunford, meanwhile, faced his first headache just one day after taking command, after an Afghan government panel acknowledged that detainees taken off the battlefield by coalition and Afghan troops face widespread torture at the hands of local security forces, although it denied systematic torture in government-run prisons.
Dunford's predecessor, Marine General John Allen, had urged the Afghan government to investigate allegations of detainee abuse.
Full Caption: Upcoming US and NATO-led International Security Assistance Force commander in Afghanistan US General Joseph Dunford (right) hugs the outgoing ISAF commander, US General John Allen, during a change-of-command ceremony in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Sunday. A new US commander is at the helm of international forces in Afghanistan. Marine General Joseph Dunford takes charge at a critical time for President Barack Obama and the military as foreign combat forces prepare to withdraw by the end of 2014. - AP