KABUL, Afghanistan — Gen. David Petraeus formally assumed command of the 130,000-strong international force in Afghanistan on Sunday, declaring "we are in this to win" despite rising casualties and growing skepticism about the nearly 9-year-old war.
During a ceremony at NATO headquarters, Petraeus received two flags — one for the US and the other for NATO — marking his formal assumption of command.
Petraeus said it was important to demonstrate to the Afghan people and world that al-Qaida and its extremist allies will not be allowed to once again establish sanctuaries in Afghanistan from which to launch attacks on the United States and other countries.
"We are in this to win," Petraeus told a crowd of several hundred NATO and Afghan officials at the ceremony at a grassy area just outside coalition headquarters. "We have arrived at a critical moment."