French troops wind down Afghan deployment

Nov. 20, 2012 at 2:33 PM

KABUL, Afghanistan, Nov. 20 (UPI) -- The French army withdrew 400 combat forces from Kapisa province in Afghanistan Tuesday, winding down its combat mission in the war-savaged country.

Since 2008, the soldiers have occupied the Nijrab base in the province where major routes from Pakistan to the Afghan capital of Kabul intersect, Radio France Internationale reported. The withdrawal is part of an accelerated departure ordered by President Francois Hollande.

Of the 2,200 French soldiers remaining in Afghanistan, about 700 will leave by year's end and those left will organize the troops' final departure in 2013. The remaining troops also will be responsible for ensuring military equipment is returned to France and for training the Afghan forces to assume security duties.

About 4,700 Afghan police and soldiers will be responsible for Kapisa's security, supported by about 250 U.S. troops, RFI said.

The French pullout Tuesday came about two years before the 100,000-member International Security Assistance Force force is scheduled to leave.

The mission in Kapisa province accounted for 60 of the 88 French deaths in Afghanistan.

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