HERATCITY - Security responsibility for Herat City was handed over to Afghan forces on Thursday, increasing to four the number of areas transferred to local control. Marking the transition, two separate ceremonies took place on the Herat Airbase and at the 207the Zafar Corps of the Afghan National Army. Head of Security Transition Commission Dr. Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai, ministers of defense, finance and energy, as well as Italian economic cooperation minister and the Italian ambassador to Afghanistan attended the event.
Ahmadzai told the ceremony the transition did not mean an end to Afghanistan's relations with the global fraternity; instead it signaled enhanced international support for the country. He announced $856 million would be invested over the next three years in capacity building, training and equipping Afghan security forces in the province.
Calling Herat a privileged place, he hoped the city would be able to revive its past glory in the wake of the security transfer. Governor Daud Shah Saba said they had drawn up a long-term plan for the development of the province, bordering Iran. The plan would be presented to the international community for funding.
He added the expansion of Herat Airport, construction of a ring road and a number of other projects would be implemented in near future. However, Saba urged the international community to take action against terrorist sanctuaries outside Afghanistan.
Roughly, 3,880 Italian soldiers are stationed in the province and Italy commands forces from 12 countries in western Afghanistan. Announced by President Hamid Karzai on March 22, the transition project is expected to be completed throughout the country by the end of 2014.
Security responsibility for central Bamiyan province, Mehtarlam city of Laghman and Lashkargah, capital of southern Helmand, has already been also transferred to Afghan forces.
A similar switch is due in Kabul, Panjsher and northern Mazar-i-Sharif over the next few days.