China Daily | 30 July 2010
THE HAGUE – The Dutch troops deployed in Afghanistan will leave as scheduled starting August 1 after concluding a four-year mission in the country, Dutch military chief General Peter van Uhm said Thursday.
While being stationed in Afghanistan’s southern province of Uruzgan over the past four years, Dutch troops have spent some 1.4 billion euros (about $ 1.82 billion ) and lost 24 combat soldiers, the general said. He didn’t mention that his son was among the dead.
The general said the Dutch troops have greatly improved the security situation in Uruzgan and helped to train Afghan security forces which are able to carry out operations on their own.
He said the troops also constructed roads, schools and hospitals.
The Netherlands, bounded by NATO charters, sent its military forces to war-torn Afghanistan in 2006, and currently has a total of 1950 soldiers there under the command of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).
NATO requested the Dutch government extend its mission for another year. However, the request was refused as the mission was unpopular domestically and even led to the fall of the previous government.
A Dutch government spokesperson said the withdrawal of troops will end in September, while fighter jets and military hardware will be brought back at the end of the year.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai praised the Netherlands “for the work that Dutch soldiers and development workers have done, and are still doing, in building the country.”
The troops from the United States, Australia, Slovakia and Singapore will take over the Dutch military’s responsibilities.
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