Key dates since the start of the 2001 war in Afghanistan and efforts to broker peace

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Nov. 13, 2001 – U.S.-backed Northern Alliance forces enter Kabul as the Taliban withdraw south. Within a month, Taliban leaders have fled from southern Afghanistan into neighboring Pakistan.

December 2001 – U.S. forces bomb the Tora Bora cave complex in eastern Afghanistan where bin Laden is hiding, but he slips over the border into Pakistan and disappears.

Dec. 22, 2001 – Hamid Karzai, an ethnic Pashtun opponent of the Taliban, is sworn in as interim leader.

May 2, 2003 – U.S. officials declare an end to major combat operations in Afghanistan. President George W. Bush turns the U.S. focus to preparing for the invasion of Iraq. This allows the Taliban to gradually return, at first in the south and east.

Feb. 17, 2009 – Barack Obama, in his first major military decision as president, orders 17,000 more combat troops to Afghanistan to tackle an intensifying insurgency. The 17,000 reinforce 38,000 U.S. troops and 32,000 from some 40 NATO allies and other nations already in Afghanistan.

Aug. 20, 2009 – Second Afghan presidential election. Karzai retains power after a dispute with his main rival, Abdullah Abdullah, fueled by allegations of major election fraud.

May 1, 2011 – Bin Laden is killed in a raid by U.S. forces in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

2011 – The number of U.S. forces in Afghanistan peaks at about 100,000 as part of a surge that involves intensified CIA drone attacks on Taliban and other militants in Pakistan.

December 2011 – U.S. officials say U.S. diplomats have held about half a dozen secret meetings with Afghan Taliban contacts over 10 months, mostly in Germany and Qatar.