Petraeus exits Afghan post

US General David Petraeus, Washington’s new intelligence chief, handed over command of US and NATO-led troops in Afghanistan after a tentative start was made to a gradual process of transferring security to Afghan forces.

Petraeus, credited with reversing a spiral towards civil war in Iraq, took over in Afghanistan a year ago after his predecessor, General Stanley McChrystal, was sacked by US President Barack Obama for comments made in a magazine story.

Petraeus is leaving the military to take over as director of the Central Intelligence Agency as part of a wider shake-up of senior US security officials and takes over from Leon Panetta, the new US defence secretary.

Petraeus, who hands over to US Marine Corps General John Allen, oversaw a “surge” of 30,000 extra US forces which helped stop the momentum of a growing insurgency, especially in the Taliban heartland in the south. He led a similar escalation of forces that helped turn around the Iraq conflict in 2007-08.

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