Australian PM: Afghanistan War Ends With Hope, If Not Victory

Most troops will be home before Christmas, says Abbott

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Jo Dilorenzo / ISAF Regional Command / Getty Images

Two Australian soldiers embrace as an aircraft carrying the late Sergeant Brett Wood, departs Tarin Kot in 2011. Some 40 Australian troops were killed in the Afghanistan war.

In his first visit to Afghanistan, Australia’s Prime Minister Tony Abbott spoke at a ceremony to mark the imminent withdrawal of his country’s troops.

“Australia’s longest war is ending — not with victory, not with defeat, but with, we hope, an Afghanistan that is better for our presence here,” he told Australian and international soldiers gathered at a military base at Tarin Kowt on Monday.

Most of Australia’s 1500 troops will leave Afghanistan by Christmas, and about 300 personnel will stay on as trainers in Kabul and Kandahar, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation reports. At least 20,000 Australians served in the conflict over more than a decade.