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Canada ends military operations in Afghanistan: statement

The Canadian forces on Wednesday ended their military operation in the post-Taliban Afghanistan, said the NATO-led coalition forces.

"Canada marked the end of more than 12 years of major military operations in Afghanistan during a flag-lowering ceremony conducted at ISAF (International Security Assistance Forces) headquarters today," the NATO-led ISAF said in a statement.

"The Canadian Armed Forces have been a reliable and significant partner in the success of the ISAF mission," said Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr. the U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan.

"Canada played a critical role in securing Kandahar Province and had a strategic impact across the country with their contribution to the NATO training mission. Canadian personnel set an example for courage and compassion of which both Canada and NATO can be proud. On behalf of ISAF I extend our sincere thanks and gratitude for Canada's outstanding service and sacrifice," Dunford noted in the statement.

More than 40,000 Canadian service members were deployed to Afghanistan between 2001 and 2014. While their military mission coming to an end, Canada will continue to play an important role in Afghanistan's future through the provision of 330 million U.S. dollars to help sustain the Afghan National Security Forces, according to the statement.

More than 52,000-strong NATO-led foreign troops, down from the peak of 130,000 in 2010, are currently being deployed in Afghanistan. The war-torn country is due to take over the responsibility for its own security from foreign troops by the end of the year.

Up to 158 Canadian forces had been killed in Afghanistan during the mission.

[Source: Xinhua, Kabul, 12Mar14]

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