SYDNEY (AP) – The last remaining Australian combat troops in Afghanistan were headed home on Monday, as Australia’s military involvement in the 12-year-old conflict draws to a close.
The final group of Australia’s combat soldiers in Afghanistan pulled out on Sunday, coinciding with the closure of the international military base at Tarin Kowt in Uruzgan province, Australia’s main base in the country, Defense Minister David Johnston said.
Around 400 of the 1,550 Australian military personnel in Afghanistan will remain through next year to train the Afghan military in Kabul and Kandahar.
“This war is ending, not with victory, not with defeat, but with hope that Afghanistan is a better place and Uruzgan in particular is a better place for our presence,” Prime Minister Tony Abbott said. “I firmly believe that to be the case.”
The Australian military’s main focus in Afghanistan is to train an Afghan National Army brigade to take responsibility for security in Uruzgan. Forty Australian troops have died in the conflict.
Australia is the largest provider of troops to the Afghanistan war outside NATO.
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