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ROME: Italy has completed its troop pullout from Afghanistan, ending a 20-year deployment as part of an accelerated withdrawal of NATO forces.
Members of the US-backed alliance agreed in April to wrap up their 9,600-strong mission in Afghanistan after US President Joe Biden made the call to end Washington’s longest war.
“Last night, the Italian mission in Afghanistan officially ended,” Defence Minister Lorenzo Guerini said in a statement, after dozens of soldiers landed at Pisa’s international airport from Herat.
“However, the international community’s commitment to Afghanistan, starting with Italy, does not end here. It will continue in other forms, from strengthening development cooperation to supporting Afghan republican institutions.”
According to the ministry, 50,000 Italian soldiers were deployed to Afghanistan over the past 20 years after the 9/11 attacks prompted US and NATO involvement in the country. Over that period, 53 soldiers died and 723 were injured.
Italy was one of the five countries most involved in Afghanistan along with the United States, Turkey, Britain and Germany as part of “Resolute Support.” This NATO-led non-combat mission aimed to train Afghan forces into ensuring their country’s security after the departure of foreign forces.
Last German troops leave Afghanistan
Earlier Germany has completed its troop pullout from Afghanistan started in May, the defence ministry announced, ending a nearly 20-year deployment there alongside US and other international forces.
“After nearly 20 years of deployment, the last soldiers of our Bundeswehr have left Afghanistan this evening,” said German Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer in a statement. “They are on the way back.
“A historic chapter comes to an end, an intensive deployment that challenged and shaped the Bundeswehr, in which the Bundeswehr proved itself in combat,” she added.
On Twitter, the minister offered her thanks to all the 150,000 men and women who had served there since 2001, saying they could be proud of their service. She paid tribute to those killed and wounded in service there. “You will not be forgotten,” she said.
According to the army, 59 German soldiers have been killed since 2001 in the course of their service in Afghanistan. The last of the troops were airlifted out of their base at Mazar-i-Sharif in northern Afghanistan on two German A400 Ms and two US C17s.
Before the pull-out began, Germany still had 1,100 soldiers operating as part of the 9,600-strong NATO training and support mission – second only to the US military presence.
Britain, Italy and Turkey also have a significant military presence there, the five countries between supplying 6,000 members of the mission, called Resolute Support.
Smaller contributors to the force, such as Denmark, Estonia and Spain, have already pulled out their forces. Washington has already announced it is preparing for the evacuation of their Afghan translators