Danes speed up departure from Afghanistan

March 19, 2013 at 10:21 AM
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COPENHAGEN, Denmark, March 19 (UPI) -- Most Danish troops will leave Afghanistan by late this summer, months ahead of their planned departure, the country's prime minister announced Tuesday.

The withdrawal is being accelerated by the early closure of British bases where the troops have been stationed, The Copenhagen Post reported.

"The situation is that the Danish and British forces determined that there shouldn't be new squads when the current team leaves for home in August," Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt said at her weekly news briefing. "After that we will support only with our tanks,"

The original withdrawal plan called for the last infantry troops to return to Denmark by February 2014. Tank units would be out of the country by summer and the last battle unit was to leave by the end of 2014.

Denmark has pledged to provide more than $347 million in financial support to the Afghans and to help develop the country's security forces to fight the Taliban without foreign assistance.

Some 43 Danish troops have been killed in Afghanistan since Denmark became part of the international coalition force in 2002. In 2011, 720 Danish troops were stationed in the country. That number had dropped to 650 at the end of 2012.

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