North Atlantic Treaty Organisation 'aware of reports' about United States troop cuts in Afghanistan

Trump To Pull Half Of Troops From Afghanistan: Report

Trump To Pull Half Of Troops From Afghanistan: Report

A recent us military report said Taliban control over Afghanistan has increased in recent months, and the government now controls or influences only 55.5 percent of the country's districts - the lowest level recorded since it began tracking the data in 2015.

Against the advice of many in his own administration, President Donald Trump is pulling US troops out of Syria.

While Afghan officials expressed surprise, President Ashraf Ghani's spokesman Haroon Chakhansuri took to social media to claim it would not affect the security of the country.

The Wall Street Journal quoted an unnamed senior US official on December 20 as saying that Trump "wants to see viable options about how to bring conflicts to a close".

"A complete withdrawal of USA forces would very likely cause the Taliban to make gains in key areas throughout Afghanistan", Roggio said.

US officials are currently engaged in talks with the Taliban, who now control a significant amount of territory. The Pentagon has been ordered to begin the planning immediately.

The US has about 14,000 troops in Afghanistan working either with a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation mission to support Afghan forces or in separate counter-terrorism operations.

Although U.S. troops have pulled back from active combat operations, Afghanistan's security forces rely heavily on U.S. air power against the Taliban and other insurgent groups, such as IS and Al-Qaeda affiliates.

"Because you have the right to have a Secretary of Defense whose views are better aligned with yours on these and other subjects", Mattis wrote.

The drawdown, which was first reported Thursday evening by the Wall Street Journal, will remove roughly 7,000 American service members from Afghanistan. The Pentagon also has 25,239 private security contractors deployed in Afghanistan.

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U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) tweeted on Thursday that he had just returned from Afghanistan, where ISIS is still a threat and local forces are unable defeat the terrorist group. We also have been skeptical of some of the arguments for such a prolonged presence, particularly the notion that keeping a couple of thousand USA troops will force the departure of Iranian forces and surrogates from Syria or otherwise counter Iranian influence.

"As the Kabul administration is the product of the invasion as it has neither capability to end nor want to end the invasion", a Taliban commentary on their official website said.

An overly hasty withdrawal also makes it less likely that the Kurds' interests will be protected in any new political arrangement in Syria, assuming Assad is amenable to global efforts to find a political solution to Syria's civil war.

Mohammad Taqi, a Florida-based political analyst, told RFE/RL's Radio Mashaal that a rapid USA withdrawal would be "a huge mistake".

While Afghanistan's government was not included in the talks, Kabul was concerned that a hasty agreement between the USA and Taliban negotiators would potentially undermine the country's security. "Now the reports of [a USA withdrawal] show a weakening stance by the US, which could subsequently undermine [the] Afghan government's position".

Mattis had argued for maintaining a strong USA military presence in Afghanistan to bolster diplomatic peace efforts.

Qureshi said that he welcomes peace talks and Pakistan will continue to support the Afghan peace process.

Khalilzad's remarks came following his latest face-to-face meeting earlier this week with the Taliban, which was held in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.) and was also attended by Saudi Arabia and Pakistan.

Thursday's news of the planned drawdown followed Trump's order on Wednesday to withdraw all 2,000 U.S. troops from Syria. The decision was precipitated partly by Trump's planned hasty withdrawal of troops in both Syria and Afghanistan.

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