ANKARA - Turkey’s ambassador to Afghanistan has been appointed as NATO’s next top civilian official in the country, the military alliance and the Turkish Foreign Ministry said on Monday. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg appointed Ismail Aramaz as Senior Civilian Representative (SCR) to Afghanistan, with Aramaz expected to take up the position early next year, according to a statement released by NATO on Monday.

With the end of NATO-led military operations in Afghanistan due in December, Aramaz will play an “integral role” in the alliance’s new mission of training, advising and assisting Afghan security forces, the statement said. Turkey has the second largest armed forces in NATO and contributes hundreds of troops to the international force in Afghanistan, but only in non-combat roles.

The draw-down of foreign troops in Afghanistan is seen as a key test of the Afghan government and its 350,000-strong security forces in the face of an increasingly ambitious and organised Taliban insurgency.