Washington: Out of the 14,000 American troops serving in Afghanistan, the Pentagon is planning to withdraw up to 7000 troops, stated US officials on Thursday, according to news agency ANI. The final decision on when the troops will be out is not yet confirmed, though one official claimed that they will come back by summer.
Earlier in the year, US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and other military leaders persuaded President Donald Trump to stay put the troops on the ground to pressurize the Taliban and win the Islamic State insurgency. However, Trump has decided to withdraw the troops as he considered the battle to be a lost cause.
Officials claim that the latest decision of the White House to push for the withdrawal of the troops was yet another factor responsible for Mattis’ resignation on Thursday. Analysts say the withdrawal of troops will please US enemies by clearing the way for Syria’s Assad regime, Russia and Iran. Mattis had warned that removing ground forces from the Middle Eastern country would be a “strategic blunder”.
Following the US-led invasion, the Taliban insurgents became a powerful force and occupy nearly half of Afghanistan. They attack security forces and government officials on a daily basis, stated reports.
In the recent months, peace talks are being held with the Taliban. However, the major worry of the officials is that the mere prospect of having to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan may encourage the Taliban to take vantage of the time lag created when the US troops depart.
On December 19, Trump tweeted a Twitter video which said, “We’ve won against ISIS,” and that it was time to bring the roughly 2,000 US soldiers fighting the jihadists home. The move will have extraordinary geopolitical ramifications and throws into question the fate of US-backed Kurdish fighters who have been tackling Islamic State jihadists.
U.S. troops went to Afghanistan in November 2001 following the September 11 attacks.
(With Agency inputs)