Croatia will repatriate its troops who have completed their tour of duty in Afghanistan as part of NATO's Resolute Support peace mission and whose return was temporarily delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The government decided on Thursday that Croatian personnel would be flown back by a Croatia Airlines aircraft.
The repatriation of the 11th Croatian contingent from Afghanistan was scheduled for 27 March. A total of 140 troops are returning from Afghanistan, including 105 Croatians and 35 soldiers from allied partner countries (26 from Montenegro, 7 from North Macedonia, and 2 from Albania).
This contingent has already transferred its duty to the 12th contingent which comprises 108 soldiers.
Explaining the decision, Defence Minister Damir Krsticevic said that the repatriation of the 11th contingent was temporarily delayed because of the global coronavirus pandemic.
"However, we have ascertained that their further stay in Afghanistan after their tour of duty has ended, represents a health and safety risk and that the return of all members of the 11th contingent is necessary. The safety of every Croatian soldier is an absolute priority," said Krsticevic.
"It is our responsibility to return every Croatian soldier to their family. They have completed their duty and now this final step is up to us," he added.