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200 French troops said goodbye to Afghanistan

PanARMENIAN.Net - Two hundred French troops said goodbye to the war in Afghanistan on Wednesday as part of France's accelerated pullout from the country, The Associated Press reported.

In January, French President Nicolas Sarkozy announced a faster-track exit for France, breaking from previous plans to go along with to the U.S.-led coalition's plan to withdraw combat forces by the end of 2014.

Sarkozy said France would speed up its withdrawal timetable, pulling out 1,000 - 400 more than its previous target - of its current 3,600 soldiers by year-end and withdraw all combat forces by the end of 2013. His announcement came a week after four unarmed French troops were killed by an Afghan soldier in Kapisa province in eastern Afghanistan.

The French troops waiting to board their flight out of Afghanistan were not stationed in Kapisa, but in Surobi district, about 45 kilometers (30 miles) east of Kabul.

They said they were elated to leave and thought the Afghan forces they left behind were ready to go solo.

In Paris, French military spokesman Col. Thierry Burkhard said that after more French troops leave in the next few days, about 3,400 French troops will still be in Afghanistan. There are no specific plans yet for the withdrawals scheduled for 2013, he said.

France, one of the top five troop-contributing nations in the international force, has lost 92 troops since 2001.

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