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Denmark to pull half its troops out of Afghanistan a year early


Denmark will withdraw half of its 650 soldiers from Afghanistan in August, a year earlier than planned, Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt said Tuesday.

An infantry unit had been due to be replaced in the volatile Helmand province in August but Thorning-Schmidt said that an assessment by British and Danish defence officials showed that this was no longer needed.

"Therefore the only combat unit in Afghanistan will be our tank unit, which will remain," she told reporters.

Danish media had reported earlier Tuesday that all of the country's forces would be withdrawn in August.

Denmark did not have a definitive calendar for withdrawal of its troops serving in a NATO force in Afghanistan.

NATO combat forces are due to pull out by the end of 2014. By then, the coalition is aiming to train 350,000 Afghan soldiers and police to take over responsibility for security.

But trust between the two sides has been seriously undermined by "insider" attacks by Afghan forces that killed more than 60 foreign troops in 2012, and the transition process has been beset by other problems, including desertions.

Forty-three Danish soldiers have died since international forces were deployed in Afghanistan in late 2001.