Follow Us on Google News
WASHINGTON: President Donald Trump has said he wants all US troops to leave Afghanistan by Christmas, speeding up the timeline for ending America’s longest war.
“We should have the small remaining number of our BRAVE Men and Women serving in Afghanistan home by Christmas!” Trump wrote on Twitter.
In the agreement reached with the Taliban in February, the United States promised to pull out all its troops by mid-2021 in return for promises by the militants not to allow Afghanistan to be used by extremists.
The Taliban have since opened talks in Doha with the Afghan government but the meetings have immediately stalled as they insisted on their form of Islamic jurisprudence.
Trump’s promise comes one month before US elections in which the president has sought to show that he is making good on his promise to draw a close to “endless wars.”
Trump has already reduced US forces in Afghanistan to around 8,600 and the Taliban has stood by promises not to attack Western troops but continue their campaign against government forces.
National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien offered greater detail about the pace and scope of the withdrawal and said the United States will reduce its troops in Afghanistan to 2,500 early next year.
President Trump and other officials have said that the US will go down to between 4,000 and 5,000 troops in Afghanistan around November.
“When President Trump took office, there were over 10,000 American troops in Afghanistan. As of today there are under 5,000 and that will go to 2,500 by early next year,” O’Brien said at an event at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
The White House’s plan for the withdrawal will almost certainly be subject to review should Trump lose his bid for a second term in next month’s election.
“Ultimately, the Afghans themselves are going to have to work out an accord, a peace agreement … It’s going to be slow progress, it’s going to be hard progress, but we think it’s a necessary step – we think Americans need to come home,” O’Brien said.
About 2,400 US service members have been killed in the Afghan conflict and many thousands more wounded. Wednesday also marks 19 years since the US invaded Afghanistan to topple the Taliban.