The United States has taken over command of the multi-national NATO force in Afghanistan from the British. The handover comes as the Taliban warn they have 2,000 suicide bombers ready for an offensive in the next few months.
Outgoing Commander, British General David Richards, oversaw a major push into the Islamic militants’ heartland in the south. Troop numbers increased from 9,000 to more than 33,000 during his nine months at the helm.
During a major operation to retake the town of Musa Qala in the volatile Helmand province, NATO forces said they killed the Taliban commander in an air strike overnight. Mullah Abdul Ghafoor and his fighters seized the town on Thursday, breaking a months-long truce.
The new Commander, US General Dan McNeil, is expected to have more troops available to him.
Washington has extended the tours of duty of some of its soldiers, effectively boosting numbers by 2,500 over the next few months. But analysts warn there are still not enough soldiers in Afghanistan for what will be a decisive year in the battle for the country.