French combat troops in Afghanistan are preparing to come home on Tuesday as their mission officially ends.
Some 400 soldiers are pulling out from their forward operating base in Kapisa province to handover to the Afghan army.
Between now and the end of the year a further 700 will leave. The remaining 1,500 troops will withdraw by next summer.
“We’re a little stressed about the departure but we’re happy to be leaving as we’ve been here for a while now. The last few days are the most difficult,” said Private 1st class Terena.
Chief Corporal Stephane added: “I’m looking forward to seeing my wife, children and going to a good restaurant.”
Policing Kapisa province has been a costly mission for France. Most of its 88 soldiers killed since the start of the conflict lost their lives fighting here.
The head of the Afghan mission in the province says the force will be sorely missed.
“They’re our friends and they were by our side during operations. They also provided us with logistical and aerial support,” said Colonel Bbabgul Haqmal.
Successive attacks by rogue Afghan soldiers have hastened the pullout but French forces were due to leave by the end of the year. Beyond that, some 500 French troops will remain to provide training.