Australia's last remaining combat troops in Afghanistan are heading home, 12 years after the country first sent in soldiers to assist the U.S.-led NATO coalition.
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott announced the withdrawal Monday. He said Uruzgan province in southern Afghanistan, where Australian forces have been training Afghan soldiers and police, is now a "very significantly" different place.
"This war is ending, not with victory, not with defeat, but with hope that Afghanistan is a better place and Uruzgan in particular is a better place for our presence. I firmly believe that to be the case," said Abbott.
He also offered a tribute to the 40 Australian soldiers killed in the war.
Australia has been one of the largest troop contributors among non-NATO countries, with about 1,550 troops deployed in Afghanistan. Four hundred of them are remaining in non-combat roles to train Afghan forces in Kabul and Kandahar.
Most foreign combat troops are due to leave Afghanistan by the end of next year.