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In an elaborate, symbolic and at times sombre ceremony the command of troops in Afghanistan was changed.

In the barricaded headquarters of NATO’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Kabul General Joseph Dunford took over from General John Allen who has completed his 19- month tour.

Dunford could be the last to take charge of ISAF forces in Afghanistan as he will oversee the drawdown of most foreign troops by the end of next year.

“Today is not about change, It’s about continuity. What’s not changed is the will of this coalition. What’s not changed is the growing capability of our Afghan partners, the Afghan national security forces.

‘What’s not changed is our commitment to accomplish the mission and more importantly what’s not changed is the inevitability of our success,” he told the crowd of foreign and Afghan officials.

It has been arguably one of the most difficult periods as the conflict enters its 11th year. Security of much of the country was handed over to the Afghan army and police. But a number of NATO troops have been shot by Afghan forces.

President Hamid Karzai was missing from the change of command ceremony. A spokesman declined to give a reason.

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