British troops handed over the last U.K. military base in Afghanistan Sunday, ending 13 years of British combat operations in the country. As the union flag was lowered at Camp Bastion, Camp Leatherneck was also handed over to the Afghan military, ending operations for U.S. marines as well.
Camp Bastion, in Helmand province, has been the U.K. headquarters in Afghanistan since 2006.
U.K. Defense Secretary Michael Fallon, speaking on television Sunday, said “mistakes were made” but much had been achieved since operations began in 2001.
"It is with pride that we announce the end of U.K. combat operations in Helmand, having given Afghanistan the best possible chance of a stable future.
"Our armed forces' tremendous sacrifice laid the foundations for a strong Afghan security force, set the security context that enabled the first democratic transition of power in the country's history, and stopped it being a launch pad for terrorist attacks in the U.K."
While a majority of U.K. forces will be home by Christmas, plans are being made to keep around 500 in the country as mentors to the Afghan forces.
U.K. forces lost 453 troops in the conflict. The U.S. lost 2,349.