Friday marks the 10th anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan that ousted the Taliban-led government and led to the longest U.S. war, costing thousands of lives and billions of dollars.
The assault was launched less than a month after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States, with the aim of hunting down al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden and toppling the Taliban.
A decade later, Afghan President Hamid Karzai says his government and its international partners have failed to provide Afghans with security.
In an interview with the BBC, Karzai said NATO, the United States and neighboring Pakistan should have concentrated on eliminating Taliban sanctuaries early on in the conflict. The Afghan leader repeated the claim that the Taliban are supported by elements in Pakistan, a charge Islamabad has denied.
Retired Army General Stanley McChrystal delivered a speech on the eve of the anniversary, saying the most difficult task remaining in Afghanistan may be creating a legitimate government that ordinary Afghans can believe in and that can serve as a counterweight to the Taliban.
McChrystal, who commanded coalition forces from 2009 to 2010 and was forced to resign in a flap over a magazine article, said the war in Afghanistan was entered with "a frighteningly simplistic view" of Afghanistan's recent history.
Images from a decade of war
NATO says its plans to hand over security responsibility to the Afghan government remain on track. The coalition has begun to relinquish security duties to Afghanistan's army and police in a gradual process that will see all foreign combat troops leave the country by the end of 2014.
NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said Thursday he believes the transition process will "not be derailed." But since the security handover began earlier this year, insurgents have carried out a number of high-profile attacks and targeted killings.
Terry Pattar, a senior consultant for Jane's, the defense publisher, says in a report "time is running out to leave Afghanistan in an acceptable shape that would justify the time, money and lives spent in expanding the mission from counterterrorism to state building."
Currently, there are more than 130,000 international troops in Afghanistan, mostly for the United States ((, which has about 100,000 troops there.))
Friday's anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion passed without public commemoration in Afghanistan. But a day before, hundreds of demonstrators protested Thursday in Kabul to call for the immediate withdrawal of international forces.
Also, Thursday, a U.S. rights group called on the Obama administration to begin providing due process for the thousands of suspected insurgents the U.S. military is holding without charge at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan.
Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.