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Dutch Troops End Afghan Mission After Four Years

Dutch soldiers gave a radio to these villagers in Afghanistan's southern Uruzgan Province in January.

The Netherlands is formally ending its troop deployment in Afghanistan -- bringing to an end a four-year mission that has been praised for its effectiveness.

The Netherlands' military chief, General Peter van Uhm, has said that the mission, which has lately involved around 1,950 troops, had achieved some notable successes in providing security improvements as well as advancements in health care, education, and trade for residents of the southern Oruzgan Province.

During the four-year deployment in Afghanistan, at least 24 Dutch soldiers were reported killed.

Following the August 1 official end of the deployment, the Dutch troops will be replaced in the region by U.S. and Australian troops and soldiers from other countries.

Last week, a Taliban spokesman praised the Netherlands for having the "courage" to withdraw from Afghanistan, and called on other countries with troops in Afghanistan to do the same.

NATO had asked the Netherlands to extend the mission by one year -- but the request led to a political row among politicians and the collapse of the Dutch government earlier this year.

compiled from agency reports