Australia has closed its main military base in Uruzgan province, Afghanistan, and the country’s final batch of combat troops are on their way home. The departure marks the end of several years of combat that have left dozens of troops dead and more than two hundreds seriously wounded.
At a press conference announcing the withdrawal of the Australian forces, Prime Minister Tony Abbott said that the country had paid a “high price” but that the sacrifice was not in vain.
“This war is ending, not with victory, not with defeat, but with hope with hope that Afghanistan is a better place and Uruzgan in particular is a better place for our presence,” Abbott said. “I firmly believe that to be the case.”
The Australian military has maintained a permanent presence in Afghanistan’s Uruzgan province since 2005. After the withdrawal of the last combat troops, Australia will leave behind a group of 400 personnel to oversee training of the Afghan police. Most international troops will leave the country by the end of 2014.