British Prime Minister David Cameron has announced that nearly half of the country’s troops based in Afghanistan will withdraw over the next two years.
The Afghan defence ministry welcomed Britain’s decision and said Afghan forces could fill the gap left by the departing foreign troops.
After 2014, Britain will keep a small number of soldiers in Afghanistan to help train Afghan forces.
“We’ll be able to see troops come home in two relatively even steps: 2013, 2014, leaving probably around 5,200 troops after the end of 2013 compared with the 9,000 that we have now.” said Prime Minister David Cameron.
Britain’s defence budget is under pressure, forcing the Defence Ministry to spend less on troop numbers and equipment.
Britain, which has the second biggest foreign contingent in Afghanistan after the United States, says its involvement has helped to stabilize the country and has prevented terrorists from finding a safe haven.
More 430 British troops have lost their lives while on duty in the country.