The US army withdrawal from Afghanistan is significantly forward of schedule, an official informed AFP on Wednesday, as President Donald Trump reiterated requires the Pentagon to deliver troops dwelling.
The developments got here as questions loomed over the subsequent part of Afghanistan’s lengthy struggle, with the expiry of a three-day ceasefire and an anxious wait to see when violence would possibly return.
Under a deal the US signed with the Taliban in February, the Pentagon was to deliver troop ranges down from about 12,000 to eight,600 by mid-July, earlier than withdrawing all forces by May 2021.
But a senior US defence official mentioned the troop quantity was already at about 7,500, as commanders look to speed up the withdrawal due to fears over the coronavirus pandemic.
“The drawdown was accelerated due to COVID-19 precautions,” the official informed AFP, noting that the departure of anybody with underlying well being considerations or over a sure age was being prioritised.
Trump on Tuesday informed reporters the US pressure stage was “down to 7,000-some-odd soldiers right now”.
The subsequent day he returned to a frequent grievance that America shouldn’t be performing as a “police force” in Afghanistan.
“After 19 years, it is time for them to police their own Country,” Trump wrote on Twitter.
“Bring our soldiers back home but closely watch what is going on and strike with a thunder like never before, if necessary!”
Pentagon spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Campbell mentioned in a press release the US was adhering to its settlement with the Taliban.
Any additional drawdown would come “after the US government assesses the security environment and the Taliban’s compliance with the agreement”, he added.
Calls to increase ceasefire
Afghanistan has simply loved a uncommon respite in its almost 19-year-old struggle, after the Taliban referred to as a three-day ceasefire to mark the Muslim celebration of Eid al-Fitr.
But the historic pause, solely the second of its kind, expired Wednesday and requires the Taliban to resume it went unanswered, although there have been no instantly confirmed reviews of main violence.
The Afghan authorities mentioned it might proceed with the discharge of Taliban prisoners that had been agreed within the US take care of the insurgents and is seen as key to kickstarting long-delayed peace talks.
On Tuesday, the Afghan army freed about 1,000 Taliban inmates, principally from Bagram jail close to Kabul, as a part of a pledge to launch as much as 2,000 insurgents in response to the Taliban-led ceasefire.
On Wednesday, a senior Taliban member informed AFP that in return, the insurgents had been planning to free about 50 to 100 Afghan safety pressure members as early as Thursday.
Top Afghan officers have demanded the Taliban prolong the ceasefire and provided to reciprocate.
“If the Taliban are ready to extend the ceasefire, we are ready to continue the ceasefire too,” National Security Council spokesman Javid Faisal mentioned on Tuesday.
The way forward for talks with the insurgents “depends on the Taliban’s next move”, he added.
The launch of prisoners by each side is a part of a US-Taliban deal, which excluded the Afghan authorities, that stipulates Kabul would launch as much as 5,000 Taliban prisoners and the militants would free about 1,000 nationwide safety personnel.
Kabul had already freed about 1,000 Taliban inmates earlier than the ceasefire, whereas the insurgents had launched about 300 authorities captives.
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