Belgium begins Afghanistan troop withdrawal

BRUSSELS. August 6. KAZINFORM The first group of Belgian soldiers from a detachment providing security at the Kabul airport has been withdrawn from Afghanistan, Belgian media reported.

Twenty-four Belgian soldiers and 10 from Luxemburg, part of the mixed platoon stationed at the airport of Kabul since 2003, have returned home.

Belgian soldiers will completely end their mission at the airport by September 30, Belgian broadcaster RTBF reported.

It is expected that in September-November 2012, five Belgian platoons, a total of 230 personnel, will leave Afghanistan. By the end of the year Belgium's troop presence in Afghanistan will be reduced to 360 people from 626.

Six Belgian military F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft will be deployed in Afghanistan until the end of 2014, when Afghanistan will take over full control of the country's security.

Earlier Belgian Defense Minister Pieter De Crem said that Belgian soldiers would maintain a presence in Afghanistan for three more years after 2014 in order to help Afghanistan create a national army.

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