The UN Security Council has backed a resolution to establish a NATO mission to remain in Afghanistan to train and assist Afghan security forces once most of the alliance's combat troops leave at the end of the month.
On December 12, the Security Council unanimously adopted a text welcoming the agreement between NATO and Afghanistan to set up a noncombat Resolute Support Mission from January 1 that will reduce NATO's role to a training, assistance and advisory capacity.
The council also welcomed the international community's willingness to continue supporting Afghanistan as the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force mission ends on December 31 after a 13-year military engagement.
The resolution approved by the 15 council members condemns "the ongoing violent and terrorist activities by the Taliban, Al-Qaeda and other violent and extremist groups, illegal armed groups, criminals and those involved in the production, trafficking or trade of illicit drugs."
It says the goal of the new training mission is to further enhance the capabilities of Afghan military and security forces so that they can maintain security and stability throughout the country.
Afghanistan's UN Ambassador Zahir Tanin called the resolution "a clear indication" of support from the council and the international community for the Afghan people and the new government.
"No doubt, there are challenges ahead: Al-Qaeda and the Taliban continue to launch brutal terror attacks," Tanin said, pointing to deadly suicide attacks at a French school in Kabul on December 11 and at a volleyball match in Paktika province a few weeks ago as two examples.
Insurgency attacks in Afghanistan have been on the rise in recent months as the U.S.-led international military mission winds down in the run-up to the end of the year.
U.S. and NATO soldiers will draw down to around 13,000 on January 1, from a peak in 2010 of 140,000, as Afghan security forces assume full sovereignty over the country's security.
With reporting by dpa and AP