Australian forces to quit Afghanistan by Christmas: Abbott
Image provided by ISAF shows Australian defense engineers carrying the casket of a colleague on February 5, 2011 at the Tarin Kot base in Uruzgan province, Afghanistan
Abbott flew to the Australian Defence Force (ADF) mission in Uruzgan province to make the announcement, an official statement said Tuesday.
"Sweet because hundreds of soldiers will be home for Christmas. Bitter because not all Australian families have had their sons, fathers and partners return," he said at Australia's main base at Tarin Kot on Monday.
"Our mission in Afghanistan has been critical to our national security," added Abbott's statement.
"We have worked to ensure Afghanistan does not again become a safe haven for terrorists and have worked with our allies to make the world a safer place.
"People have paid a high price. We have lost 40 of our best."
More than 20,000 Australians have served in Afghanistan, with 40 killed in action and 260 wounded since 2001 when Australia joined close ally the United States to fight the Taliban and Al-Qaeda.
Abbott reaffirmed Australia’s commitment to support Afghanistan in the future, notably with training for the Afghan National Security Forces and development assistance. Several hundred Australians will continue to serve in non-combat roles in Afghanistan.
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