Exclusive: U.S. troop strength in Afghanistan down to close to 8,600 ahead of schedule – U.S. and NATO officials

WASHINGTON/MUMBAI (Reuters) – U.S. troop strength in Afghanistan is down to almost eight,600, properly ahead of a schedule agreed with Taliban militants in late February, in half as a result of of issues concerning the unfold of the coronavirus, U.S. and NATO officials stated.

A key provision of the Feb. 29 settlement between the Taliban and the United States – to which the Afghan authorities was not a celebration – concerned a U.S. dedication to cut back its navy footprint in Afghanistan from about 13,000 to eight,600 by mid-July and, circumstances allowing, to zero by May 2021.

Two senior sources in Kabul stated the eight,600 goal was probably to be achieved by early June.

Two U.S. officials, talking on the situation of anonymity, stated that the United States was close to eight,600 troops and may attain that quantity in coming days.

“Due to COVID-19 concerns, we are moving towards that planned drawdown faster than anticipated,” one of the officials stated.

The different U.S. official stated the United States had centered on rapidly eradicating non-important personnel and these thought-about to be at excessive danger from the virus.

All 4 sources requested not to be recognized due to the sensitivity of the matter.

On Tuesday, U.S. President Donald Trump there have been “7,000-some-odd soldiers” in Afghanistan however officials clarified that quantity was barely over eight,600 troops.

Trump renewed his want for a full navy withdrawal from Afghanistan however added that he had not set a goal date, amid hypothesis he may make ending America’s longest struggle half of his re-election marketing campaign.

The Taliban, who dominated Afghanistan with an iron fist from 1996 to 2001, have sought to topple the Western-backed authorities in Kabul and reimpose Islamic rule. They dismiss the Kabul authorities as a puppet of the United States.

Additional reporting by Phil Stewart; Editing by Euan Rocha and Nick Macfie

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Source link reuters.com

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