Australian Defense Minister Stephen Smith says his country plans to close its main military base in Afghanistan and withdraw most of its troops from the country by the end of the year.
" The majority of Australia ' s troops will come home from Afghanistan " after the closure of Tarin Kot base in Uruzgan province, Smith said in a statement on Tuesday. He added that at least 1,000 troops will return to Australia and those remaining will be based in Kabul or Kandahar.
The Afghan war was " the easiest thing in the world to get in, hardest thing in the world to get out, " Smith said.
Australia has about 1,500 soldiers in the country. Since the beginning of the US-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, at least 39 Australian soldiers have been killed and some 250 others injured. The US-led invasion removed the Taliban from power, but insecurity remains across Afghanistan. The foreign forces are scheduled to withdraw from Afghanistan by the end of 2014 and hand over responsibility for security to the Afghan government.