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7 Oct, 2020 21:36

US to slash Afghanistan troop level to 2,500 by early 2021 – Trump’s national security adviser

US to slash Afghanistan troop level to 2,500 by early 2021 – Trump’s national security adviser

The Trump administration will cut the number of American troops in Afghanistan to 2,500 by early next year, according to National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien. Some 4,000 troops were set to remain in the country by December.

“When President Trump took office, there were over 10,000 American troops in Afghanistan. As of today there are under 5,000 and that will go to 2,500 by early next year,” O’Brien said on Wednesday, speaking at an event at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

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Under a deal signed with the Taliban in February, the US agreed to a full troop withdrawal by spring 2021, slowly reducing its forces as the Afghan government works to negotiate a long-term ceasefire with the Islamist militant group. O’Brien’s comments were the first details on the next stage of the withdrawal, with administration officials previously stating the troop level would sit between 4,000 and 5,000 by the end of November.

While Washington is set to pull its remaining combat troops from Afghanistan in a matter of months, President Trump suggested in an interview last year that American forces would “always” have a presence in the country. He did not elaborate on what that would entail, however, only hinting that the US would continue to collect intelligence there.

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The US invaded Afghanistan in 2001 in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks, which killed nearly 3,000 people in New York City, Washington, DC and Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Originally a mission to root out international terrorist leader Osama bin Laden – who took refuge in Afghanistan in the lead-up to the attacks – the nearly two-decade US occupation has endured long after bin Laden’s death in 2011, continuing operations against local insurgents in what’s become the longest war in American history.

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