Afghanistan’s president, Hamid Karzai, has named seven areas which will be handed to Afghan forces from NATO troops.
The announcement was the first step in a process that will see all foreign soldiers leave Afghanistan by 2014.
Speaking at a graduation ceremony for Afghan military officers in Kabul, Karzai said: “The government and people should start this year by realizing that the reality is that defending our the soil is our own responsibility.”
For the most part, the provinces being passed to Afghan control are relatively peaceful, however, Karzai did name Lashkar Gah in the group of seven, the capital of the volatile Helmand province. The handover is being seen as a crucial test for Afghanistan’s forces as the West tries to extract itself from the country.