A ceremony has been held in Kosovo to mark the end of Ireland's major involvement in the KFOR peace mission.

Assistant Chief of Staff Brigadier General Michael Finn attended the midday ceremony at Camp Clarke in Pristina.

Irish troops have been serving in the Balkans for the past 11 years, with 240 personnel there at present.

The Government decided in December to cut numbers in Kosovo to 50 this month, with a further reduction in October to about six.

Plans are also proceeding for the withdrawal of 400 Irish troops from Chad starting early next month as the UN has not managed to get an extension of its mandate.

The withdrawal from Chad and Kosovo means that for the first time in over three decades, Ireland will have no major overseas mission.

Minister for Defence Tony Killeen has said that new deployments may arise.

The Defence Forces first went to Kosovo in 1999 with a transport-logistics company.

In 2003, the contingent was replaced by an armoured personnel carrier-mounted infantry company.

Special EU Representative in Kosovo Pieter Feith said the Irish will be deeply missed for their outstanding professionalism and dedication.

The main body of troops will fly home from Pristina next Tuesday.

All Irish-owned assets, including 58 vehicles, will be shipped home through Greece by the end of May.