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Last French Combat Forces Leave Afghanistan

The last batch of 200 French combat forces has left Afghanistan, a full two years before Isaf's combat mission is scheduled to end.

Around 200 soldiers of the 25th Belfort infantry regiment, responsible for overseeing the hastened French exit from the 11-year war, took off around 2:30 pm local time, an airport official told AFP.

They are expected to return to France on December 18 following a three-day decompression stay on the Mediterranean island of Cyprus.

Their departure means France has around 1,500 soldiers left in Afghanistan, the vast majority in Kabul. They are due to stay into 2013 to take responsibility for repatriating equipment and training the Afghan army to take over.

After then, only several hundred French soldiers involved in cooperation or training missions will remain in the country.

France had 4,000 soldiers in Afghanistan as the fifth largest military behind US, Britian and Germany.

The French troops had joined the Nato coalition in Afghanistan after the ouster of the Taliban.

In 2007, the French moved into the strategic province of Kapisa, which straddles the transit route from Kabul to Pakistan, after president Nicolas Sarkozy agreed to an American request to take on more of the fight against the Taliban.

Last French Combat Forces Leave Afghanistan

The last batch of 200 French combat forces has left Afghanistan, a full two years before Isaf's co

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The last batch of 200 French combat forces has left Afghanistan, a full two years before Isaf's combat mission is scheduled to end.

Around 200 soldiers of the 25th Belfort infantry regiment, responsible for overseeing the hastened French exit from the 11-year war, took off around 2:30 pm local time, an airport official told AFP.

They are expected to return to France on December 18 following a three-day decompression stay on the Mediterranean island of Cyprus.

Their departure means France has around 1,500 soldiers left in Afghanistan, the vast majority in Kabul. They are due to stay into 2013 to take responsibility for repatriating equipment and training the Afghan army to take over.

After then, only several hundred French soldiers involved in cooperation or training missions will remain in the country.

France had 4,000 soldiers in Afghanistan as the fifth largest military behind US, Britian and Germany.

The French troops had joined the Nato coalition in Afghanistan after the ouster of the Taliban.

In 2007, the French moved into the strategic province of Kapisa, which straddles the transit route from Kabul to Pakistan, after president Nicolas Sarkozy agreed to an American request to take on more of the fight against the Taliban.

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