A French newspaper reported Sunday that France plans to withdraw 200 Special Forces officers from southeast Afghanistan by early next year.
The Defense Ministry refused to comment on the report in Journal de Dimanche newspaper, which cited unnamed sources "close to the military."
"The decision to withdraw the elite troops was taken at the highest level by the president of the republic and the army chiefs of staff," the report said, adding that another 1,700 French troops that are part of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan would not be affected by the decision.
Deployed in southeastern Afghanistan, the French Special Forces have been involved in the fight against al-Qaida and the Taliban and the search for al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden.
The newspaper suggested the worsening security situation in Afghanistan was a possible reason for the decision to pull the special troops out. Nine elite troops have been killed in combat.
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