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The Netherlands withdraws its forces from Afghanistan after a 20-year mission

The Netherlands is preparing to end its military presence in Afghanistan this month after nearly twenty years.


The Dutch Defense Ministry handed over two flags of its military mission in Afghanistan to the National Military Museum in Suesterberg, according to the Dutch newspaper, "Netherland Times" on Sunday.


"We leave with mixed feelings, and we see pictures of the Taliban advancing," Dutch Defense Minister Ank Bielefeld said, adding: "The security situation is worrying and some of the progress may be lost."


Dozens attended the handover ceremony of El Alamein, while 25 empty chairs were left to represent the 25 Dutch soldiers killed in Afghanistan, and a moment of silence was observed in mourning for "the many Afghans who died, soldiers and colleagues," as the Defense Minister described.


It is scheduled to withdraw all 10 thousand foreign soldiers from Afghanistan, including 160 Dutch soldiers who were still on the ground there.


In April, US President Joe Biden announced at a NATO meeting that the US military would leave Afghanistan by September of this year.


Dutch forces have been in Afghanistan since 2002, especially in Uruzgan province. The Netherlands later helped train the Afghan police force in Kunduz province with the aim of improving security and stability in the region.


For her part, Dutch Foreign Minister Sigrid Kaag stressed that the Dutch have a permanent relationship with Afghanistan, saying, "We have entered into a long-term relationship with the Afghan people. A relationship that we do not want to break after 20 years."