At least 650 US troops are expected to remain in Afghanistan to provide security for diplomats following the completion of the American force withdrawal from the country, The Associated Press reported on Thursday, quoting US officials.
This comes amidst a sharp rise in Taliban attacks on Afghan forces that have led to the fall of many districts to the group. But, on the other hand, thousands of Afghans have taken up arms to support the security forces in the fight against the Taliban.
The Associated Press quotes US officials as saying that says that several hundred additional US troops will remain at the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, potentially until September, as a temporary move until a more formal Turkey-led security operation is in place.
Quoted by The Associated Press the US officials who spoke on condition of anonymity said that overall, the US expects to have American and coalition military command, its leadership and most troops out by July Fourth, or shortly after that, meeting an aspirational deadline that commanders developed months ago.
This comes as US Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell on Thursday met with President Ashraf Ghani, Abdullah Abdullah Chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation and other Afghan officials who accompany the president in his two-day visit to the United States.
In the meeting with President Ghani at the Capitol, McConnell said he hopes President Biden will delay the withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan.
“As President Ghani and the Afghan people know, the threats we face from terrorism and tyranny have not been defeated,” he said.
Meanwhile, US Senator Jim Risch, ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, in a meeting with Afghan leaders also expressed his concerns about the situation in Afghanistan and said “there are options in-between departing Afghanistan entirely or remaining there forever.”
“I am concerned this decision severely hampers any chances of a negotiated peace, and puts our hard-fought counterterrorism gains at risk,” Risch said.
US and coalition forces started withdrawal from Afghanistan in May. According to US Central Command, over 50 percent of the withdrawal has been completed.