First US troops leave Afghanistan as drawdown begins

Kabul: The first group of about 10,000 US soldiers due to leave Afghanistan this year have already left, military officials said today, kicking off a gradual drawdown due to be completed in 2014.

US President Barack Obama in June announced that 33,000 American troops would leave Afghanistan by the end of next summer, leaving behind 65,000 and effectively ending a military ordered into the country late 2009.

Around 650 US army troops deployed northwest of the capital in the province of Parwan, flew out on Wednesday and will not be replaced by an incoming unit, the US military confirmed today.

"It`s correct that these soldiers are the first to redeploy from Afghanistan without being replaced by a new rotation of soldiers since the president`s announcement," said US army press officer Major Michael Wunn.

US officers have said that a total of about 800 soldiers in two Army units will depart this month.