The US and NATO hold a ceremony in Kabul on Sunday to mark the end of a 13-year war that drove the Taliban from power but left vast swathes of the country in the grip of insurgent violence.
The event was arranged in secret due to the threat of Taliban strikes in the Afghan capital, which has been hit by repeated suicide bombings and gun attacks over recent years.
On January 1, the US-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) combat force will be replaced by a NATO “training and support” mission.
Some 12,500 foreign troops will remain in Afghanistan as part of the mission, code-named “Resolute Support”. They will not be involved in direct fighting, but will assist the Afghan army and police in the battle against the Taliban, who ruled from 1996 until 2001.