PARIS (AP) - France has pulled its last 500 combat troops out of a volatile region northeast of Afghanistan's capital as part of an accelerated French withdrawal from the NATO mission in the country.
French military spokesman Col. Thierry Burkhard told the Sipa news agency that 500 French soldiers in trucks and armored vehicles left the Nijrab base in the Kapisa region - where anti-government insurgents have been active - on Tuesday and headed for the capital, Kabul.
France plans to keep 1,500 troops in Afghanistan next year mainly to repatriate equipment deployed during the 11-year French military role as part of the allied intervention in Afghanistan. About 500 will help train and support Afghan forces, and help run Kabul's airport.
Eighty-eight French troops have died in Afghanistan since late 2001.