France may pull special forces from Afghanistan

20th October 2006, Comments 0 comments

WASHINGTON, Oct 19, 2006 (AFP) - France is reviewing whether to keep French special forces in Afghanistan after a NATO-led force assumes responsibility for the entire country later this year, France's defense minister said Thursday.

WASHINGTON, Oct 19, 2006 (AFP) - France is reviewing whether to keep French special forces in Afghanistan after a NATO-led force assumes responsibility for the entire country later this year, France's defense minister said Thursday.

Defense Minister Michèle Alliot-Marie said she discussed the impact of the changes in the command structures in Afghanistan with US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

"We must look at the consequences of this new organization for the special forces presence as a whole, notably the French special forces," she told reporters after emerging with Rumsfeld from the meeting.

"I remind you that they have been there in significant numbers since 2001, and have paid heavily with a certain number of deaths," she said.

Six French special forces troops have been killed in the past year, the latest two in August in a Taliban attack in southeastern Afghanistan.

The French special forces contingent has fought alongside US special operations forces on the hunt for Al-Qaeda leaders in the eastern border areas.

Other French troops serve in the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force, which is supposed to take over security for the entire country from US-led coalition forces by the end of the year.

Some US troops, mainly special operations troops assigned to counter-terrorism missions, will remain outside the NATO force under a US command.

Alliot-Marie said it was logical to review the impact of the changes on French forces with the United States and other coalition partners.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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