A war launched in Afghanistan by the US and its allies to topple the Taliban regime and hunt down al-Qaeda members has dragged on for ten years. The military intervention promised a new beginning for Afghans, tired of decades of factional fighting followed by the Taliban’s oppressive rule.
In the 10 years since, much has been achieved in the war-torn country: girls have returned to school, a constitution has been adopted, elections have been held, and major steps have been taken to institutionalise democratic governance. But the ten years have also cost tremendous human life, both Afghan civilians and coalition soldiers. The Taliban continue to launch major attacks on urban centers as the future of a negotiated settlement grows bleak after the recent assassination of Karzai’s peace envoy, Burhanuddin Rabbani.
|1) US launches “Operation Enduring Freedom” after Taliban refuse to handover al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden [GALLO/GETTY]|
|2) US-backed Northern Alliance reinforcements advance towards Kunduz in November, 2001, to back up forces halted by a Taliban counter-attack [GALLO/GETTY]|
|3) A Northern Alliance fighter walks through a yard littered with bodies of pro-Taliban forces in a fortress prison near Mazar-e-Sharif in 2001 [GALLO/GETTY]|
|4) Hamid Karzai prays during his swearing in ceremony as the interim leader of Afghanistan in 2001 [GALLO/GETTY]
|5) Afghan girls return to school in 2002 after a five-year ban on female education by the Taliban [GALLO/GETTY]|
|6) US marines launch an offensive in Helmand province, a Taliban strong-hold in southern Afghanistan [GALLO/GETTY}
|7) Displaced by violence in the south, families staying in camps in Kabul, the capital, struggle under harsh weather [GALLO/GETTY]
|8) Afghan men get instructions on how to cast their ballot as they wait in line to vote during presidential elections [GETTY/GALLO]|
|9) The Afghan government and its international allies launch campaign to usher support for Afghan forces in the “battle for hearts and minds” [GALLO/GETTY]|
|10) More than 200,000 Afghan security forces have been trained, but questions remain about their ability to secure the country [GALLO/GETTY]
|11) US casualties have risen to more than 1,700 soldiers as public support for the war falls to a record low [GALLO/GETTY]|
12) With the immediate future uncertain, an Afghan man prays at sunset on top of a hill overlooking Kabul, a city recently targeted by major attacks [GALLO/GETTY]