French troops in Afghanistan hold a ceremony to mark the end of their mission. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) The last group of French troops in Afghanistan held a ceremony on Wednesday (December 31) to mark the end of their mission, after NATO combat operations wrapped up. Hundreds of French soldiers, who had been helping run the Kabul military airport, handed over the responsibility to a Turkish unit which will operate under the new "train and support" NATO mission. France pulled out their combat troops from the country two years ago, after 89 of their soldiers were lost and another 700 wounded since their military presence in Afghanistan started in 2001. About 13,000 foreign troops, mostly Americans, will remain in the country under a new, two-year mission named "Resolute Support" that will continue the coalition's training of Afghan security forces. The U.S.-led coalition in Afghanistan formally ended its combat mission on Sunday (December 28), more than 13 years after an international alliance ousted the Taliban government for sheltering the planners of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on American cities. The late al'Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden had strong relations with the Taliban, who let him and other members of his global militant network hide in Afghanistan. Since 2001, nearly 3,500 foreign soldiers have died in the Afghan war, including around 2,200 Americans. The Taliban have launched increasingly deadly attacks in the past year, killing record numbers of Afghans and leading the Afghan army and police to increasingly struggle. Nearly 3,200 Afghan civilians were killed in the conflict between the militant group and the army in 2014, and more than 4,600 Afghan army and police died in Taliban attacks. For Afghanistan's new president, Ashraf Ghani, keeping government control of territory and preventing security from deteriorating further is a top priority. International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said it had withheld details of Sunday's ceremony until the last moment for fear the insurgents might attempt an attack with rockets or mortars.