PARIS (AP) — President Francois Hollande has declared "mission accomplished" for French combat troops who returned home recently from Afghanistan.
The French leader congratulated troops in a ceremony at his palace Friday.
"I say to you all: 'Mission Accomplished.' I also say to you: 'exemplary action'. I say to you: 'congratulations,'" he told them.
Their recent withdrawal from the NATO-led mission achieved Hollande's campaign promise to bring combat forces home by year's end. He has argued that France had achieved what it needed to do there.
France still has 1,500 troops in Afghanistan repatriating equipment or working in roles like providing medical care or helping run Kabul's airport. Hollande said the numbers will decline to 500 by mid-2013.
France had 4,000 troops in Afghanistan at one point; 83 have died there.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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