5 Jul 2011

Canada mission in Afghanistan ends this week

10:22 pm on 5 July 2011

After nine years and 157 troop deaths, Canada's combat mission in Afghanistan finally comes to an end on Thursday.

Some of the nearly 3000 Canadian soldiers, based mainly in the dangerous battleground of Kandahar, have already started returning from Afghanistan and the rest will follow soon, AFP reports.

Canadian troops were sent to Afghanistan in early 2002, a few months after the United States-led invasion of the country.

Earlier this year, US president Barack Obama announced he will withdraw 33,000 American troops by the end of 2012.

France, Belgium and Britain also say they will bring some troops home soon.

All foreign combat forces are due to hand over security to Afghan forces by the end of 2014.

Seventy New Zealand SAS troops in Afghanistan will be cut by about half in an extended deployment.