Reports by US media indicate that Trump administration has ordered the US military to start withdrawing up to 7,000 troops from Afghanistan in the coming months.
In a report published on December 20, The New York Times quotes a US official wo says that Mr. Trump made the decision to pull the troops — about half the number the United States has in Afghanistan now — at the same time he decided to pull American forces out of Syria.
On Thursday, the US Defense Secretary James Mattis announced that he would resign from his position at the end of February after disagreeing with President Trump over his approach to policy in the Middle East.
The Wall Street Journal was the first to report the development.
The New York Times quotes another US official who says the reduction of forces in Afghanistan is in an effort to make Afghan forces more reliant on their own troops and not Western support.
According to The New York Times, Cmdr. Rebecca Rebarich, a Pentagon spokeswoman, declined to comment on the plan to remove troops from Afghanistan.
The US troops in Afghanistan are divided between training and advising Afghan forces and a counterterror mission.
According to the report, those who are part of the 7,000-troop withdrawal will be a mixture of forces from both of those missions.
US government’s figures show that more than 2,400 Americans have died in Afghanistan since 2001, and this year 13 were killed in combat.
Since the end of 2014, when the Pentagon declared an end to combat operations in the country, more than 25,000 Afghan soldiers and police have been killed.
This comes amid increasing efforts by the Afghan government and its international allies, US on the top, to reach a political settlement for ending the war in Afghanistan.
In line with these efforts, the US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation, Zalmay Khalilzad, met with Afghan government leaders, political leaders and activists in Kabul to discuss the Afghan peace.
In an interview with TOLOnews on Thursday, Khalilzad said Taliban has accepted that they cannot win by warfare and that political settlement should be sought for ending the crisis in the country.
In reaction to this report, President Ghani’s spokesman Haroon Chakhansuri said on Friday that troops pull-out will not affect security situation in the country.
Chakhansuri said most of the US forces - who will possibly be withdrawn from Afghanistan - are engaged in training and advise mission for Afghan forces and that Afghan forces are capable of defending the country.