CNN on Saturday reported that the Trump administration is close to finalizing a decision to withdraw more than 4,000 troops from Afghanistan by the fall, citing two Trump administration officials.
Almost a week ago, Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, head of the US Central Command, said the United States has reduced its troop level to 8,600 in Afghanistan, fulfilling the first phase of the planned withdrawal specified in the US-Taliban deal signed in Doha in February.
The CNN report says that the new move would reduce the number of troops from 8,600 to 4,500 and would be the lowest number since the very earliest days of the war in Afghanistan, which began in 2001.
This comes a day after a meeting between US Defense Secretary Mark Esper and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in Brussels.
“We will also follow up on our discussion on Afghanistan. NATO will continue to adjust our presence in support of the peace process,” Stoltenberg said on Friday. “This will be done in close coordination with Allies and partners.”
The US has committed to withdrawing all of its forces from Afghanistan by next April under the agreement it signed with the Taliban.
It is unclear when the withdrawal of the 4,000 additional US troops would take place, CNN reports.
“US force levels in Afghanistan remain in the mid-8,000s. Additional drawdowns beyond this number remain conditions-based according to the US Government’s assessment of the overall security environment and Taliban compliance with the US-Taliban agreement," Pentagon spokesman Major Rob Lodewick, said as quoted by CNN.
According to CNN, the US State Department and US National Security Council did not reply to requests for comment.