Gen. Dan McNeill, the highest ranking US general to lead troops in Afghanistan, has taken command of 35,500 NATO-led soldiers, putting an American face on the international mission after nine months of British command.
The transition Sunday came after a year of sharply increased violence following the alliance's push into the Taliban's southern heartland, and military officials said privately they expect McNeill to take a harder line with militants than his predecessor, Gen. David Richards.
Richards backed a controversial peace deal in the southern town of Musa Qala that crumbled Thursday when an estimated 200 Taliban fighters overran the town.
NATO said a targeted airstrike Sunday killed a key Taliban leader, causing the upheaval.
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