Rome: Italy has started to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan and will leave as few as 1,800 soldiers in the war-torn country by next year, Defence Minister Mario Mauro said.
"Italian forces will be reduced from an average of 2,900 soldiers during the last three months of 2013 to 1,800 by the end of 2014," Mauro told a parliamentary committee on Thursday.
The drawing-down of Italian troops was in line with reductions by other NATO allies in the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) mission, he said.
"After 2014, the Italian government intends to maintain its commitment to the country in terms of support and training for Afghan forces," Mauro said.
Some 130,000 NATO-led combat troops will leave Afghanistan by December 2014.
The NATO alliance said it was committed to a long-term strategic relationship with Afghanistan beyond that date and that foreign military trainers will stay on.