Italy to cut forces in Afghanistan to 1,800 by 2014
Adnkronos International, Rome
ROME — Italy has begun withdrawing its troops from Afghanistan and will leave as few as 1,800 by next year, defence minister Mario Mauro told a parliamentary committee on Thursday.
Italian forces will be reduced from an average of 2,900 soldiers during the last three months of 2013 to 1,800 by the end of 2014," said Mauro.
The drawing-down of Italian troops was in line with reductions by other Nato allies in the Isaf mission, he said.
"After 2014, the Italian government intends to maintain its commitment to the country in terms of support and training for Afghan forces," Mauro stated.
"This excludes a counter-insurgency, counter-terrorism and counter-narcotics role," he said.
In 2012, the 11th year of the conflict with the Afghan Taliban, Nato backed plans to hand over combat duties to Afghan forces by mid-2013.
Some 130,000 Nato-led combat troops will leave Afghanistan by December 2014.
The alliance says it is committed to a long-term strategic relationship with Afghanistan beyond that date and that foreign military trainers will stay on.