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US troop pullout from Afghanistan is ‘ahead of schedule’ – report

US troop pullout from Afghanistan is ‘ahead of schedule’ – report

The US military’s withdrawal from Afghanistan is considerably ahead of schedule, an official told AFP on Wednesday. President Donald Trump earlier reiterated calls for the Pentagon to bring troops home.

Questions are looming over the next phase of Afghanistan’s war, as its three-day ceasefire comes to an end. Under a deal the US signed with the Taliban in February, the Pentagon was to bring troop levels down from about 12,000 to 8,600 by mid-July, before withdrawing all forces by May 2021.

However, a senior US defense official said the troop number was already down to around 7,500, as commanders sought to accelerate the withdrawal because of fears over the coronavirus pandemic. “The drawdown was accelerated due to Covid-19 precautions,” the official said.

Trump told reporters on Tuesday that the US force level was “down to 7,000-some-odd soldiers right now.” The next day he reiterated that America should not be acting as a “police force” in Afghanistan.