The Associated Press reports that "Afghanistan's parliament approved agreements Sunday with the U.S. and NATO allowing international troops to remain in the country past the end of this year amid a renewed offensive by Taliban militants."
"The international combat mission in Afghanistan, begun after the 2001 U.S.-led invasion that toppled the Taliban, was to conclude at the end of this year. The new agreements ratified by parliament allow the U.S. and NATO to keep 12,000 troops in Afghanistan next year to support local forces."
"However, the agreements come after U.S. officials said President Barack Obama had approved new guidelines allowing American troops to engage Taliban fighters, not just al-Qaida terrorists in Afghanistan. Obama's decision also means the U.S. can conduct air support when needed."