Afghanistan chief executive Abdullah Abdullah on American troops in country: 'We welcome the decision made by President Obama and the US administration. This will help protect the progress made during the past decade' - @afgexecutive
Afghan Taliban confirm leader Mullah Omar's death in statement: 'The leadership of the Islamic Emirate and the family of Mullah Omar... announce that leader Mullah Omar died due to a sickness' - @AlArabiya_Eng
The War in Afghanistan (or the American war in Afghanistan) is the period in which the United States invaded Afghanistan after the September 11 attacks. Supported initially by close allies, they were later joined by NATO beginning in 2003. It followed the Afghan Civil War's 1996–2001 phase. Its public aims were to dismantle al-Qaeda and to deny it a safe base of operations in Afghanistan by removing the Taliban from power. Key allies, including the United Kingdom, supported the U.S. from the start to the end of the phase. This phase of the War is the longest war in United States history.
In 2001, U.S. President George W. Bush demanded that the Taliban hand over Osama bin Laden and expel al-Qaeda; bin Laden had already been wanted by the United Nations since 1999. The Taliban declined to extradite him unless given what they deemed convincing evidence of his involvement in the 9/11 attacks and declined demands to extradite other terrorism suspects apart from bin Laden. The request was dismissed by the U.S. as a delaying tactic, and on 7 October 2001 it launched Operation Enduring Freedom with the United Kingdom. The two were later joined by other forces, including the Northern Alliance. In December 2001, the United Nations Security Council established the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), to assist the Afghan interim authorities with securing Kabul. At the Bonn Conference in December 2001, Hamid Karzai was selected to head the Afghan Interim Administration, which after a 2002 loya jirga in Kabul became the Afghan Transitional Administration. In the popular elections of 2004, Karzai was elected president of the country, now named the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.
NATO became involved as an alliance in August 2003, taking the helm of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), and later that year assumed leadership of ISAF with troops from 43 countries. NATO members provided the core of the force. One portion of U.S. forces in Afghanistan operated under NATO command; the rest remained under direct U.S. command. Taliban leader Mullah Omar reorganized the movement, and in 2003, launched an insurgency against the government and ISAF. Though outgunned and outnumbered, insurgents from the Taliban, Haqqani Network, Hezb-e-Islami Gulbuddin and other groups have waged asymmetric warfare with guerilla raids and ambushes in the countryside, suicide attacks against urban targets and turncoat killings against coalition forces. The Taliban exploited weaknesses in the Afghan government, among the most corrupt in the world, to reassert influence across rural areas of southern and eastern Afghanistan. ISAF responded in 2006 by increasing troops for counterinsurgency operations to "clear and hold" villages and "nation building" projects to "win hearts and minds". While ISAF continued to battle the Taliban insurgency, fighting crossed into neighboring North-West Pakistan.
On 2 May 2011, United States Navy SEALs killed Osama bin Laden in Abbotabad, Pakistan. In May 2012, NATO leaders endorsed an exit strategy for withdrawing their forces. UN-backed peace talks have since taken place between the Afghan government and the Taliban. In May 2014, the United States announced that "[its] combat operations [would] end in 2014, [leaving] just a small residual force in the country until the end of 2016". As of 2015, tens of thousands of people have been killed in the war. Over 4,000 ISAF soldiers and civilian contractors as well as over 15,000 Afghan national security forces members have been killed, as well as nearly 20 thousand civilians. In October 2014, British forces handed over the last bases in Helmand to the Afghan military, officially ending their combat operations in the war. On 28 December 2014, NATO formally ended combat operations in Afghanistan and transferred full security responsibility to the Afghan government, via a ceremony in Kabul.