500 combat troops to pull out of Afghanistan by Christmas

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Afghanistan
Defence Secretary Philip Hammond has set out more details of the UK's planned withdrawal from Afghanistan. Photo: Reuters

The MoD has confirmed that the 500 troops which it plans to pull out of Afghanistan by Christmas will be combat troops.

The Defence Secretary Philip Hammond told MPs improvements in the capability of the Afghan Army and Afghan Police meant it was safe for the combat forces to come home.

Itmeans the UK's contribution to the international security forces in Afghanistan will be cut from 9,500 to 9,000 (excluding Special Forces).

The targets for the numbers of Afghan troops is on course to be met - although many British troops have concerns about the quality of those who will soon be responsible for the fight against the Taliban in the country.

MPs voiced concern about the dangers which British troops will continue to face as their numbers decline.

British forces are concentrated in Helmand Province in the south of the country. They are committed to a combat role there until the end of 2014.

At the start of 2015, Britain will have no combat troops in the country - bringing to an end an operation which began in 2001 and to date has cost 409 British military lives.