Last Australia combat troops leave Afghan base

File photo: Australian soldiers, part of the International Security Assistance Force (Isaf), stand near local Afghans at a ceremony to open a Trade Training School at the Tarin Kot military base in Uruzgan province, south of Kabul, Afghanistan, 17 February 2007 Image copyright AP
Image caption Australian personnel will continue to train and mentor the Afghan army

Australia has closed its main military base in Afghanistan and its last combat troops have withdrawn from Uruzgan province, officials have announced.

The Australian military has maintained a permanent presence at Tarin Kot base in the province since 2005.

But officials announced on Monday that the final batch of troops to leave the base were now on their way home.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott paid tribute to the Australian troops who had served in Afghanistan since 2001.

"We know that they've paid a high price, 40 dead, 261 seriously wounded," he said.

"But that sacrifice has not been in vain. Uruzgan today is a very significantly different and better place than it was a decade ago."

Afghans have been in charge of security in Uruzgan for over a year.

From 2014, the Australian military presence will be down to around 400 people who will train and advise Afghan security forces, Australia's Minister for Defence Senator David Johnston said in a statement.

The previous Labor government announced in March that the Tarin Kot base would be closed by the end of 2013.

Most international troops are due to leave Afghanistan by the end of 2014.

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