US announces ‘significant’ troop pullout from Afghanistan
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US announces ‘significant’ troop pullout from Afghanistan

Move to bring back chunk of 14,000 troops deployed in support of local forces or counter-terror mission was decided at same time as Syria exit

Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff speaks during a ceremony on Christmas Eve at a U.S. airfield in Bagram, north of Kabul, Afghanistan, Sunday, Dec. 24, 2017. (AP/Rahmat Gul)
Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff speaks during a ceremony on Christmas Eve at a U.S. airfield in Bagram, north of Kabul, Afghanistan, Sunday, Dec. 24, 2017. (AP/Rahmat Gul)

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump has decided to pull a significant number of troops from Afghanistan, a US official told AFP on Thursday, a day after he announced a withdrawal from Syria.

“That decision has been made. There will be a significant withdrawal,” the official told AFP on condition of anonymity.

Currently, the United States has about 14,000 troops in Afghanistan working either with a NATO mission to support Afghan forces or in separate counter-terrorism operations.

Trump made his decision Tuesday, the same time he told the Pentagon he wanted to pull all US forces out of Syria.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis quit earlier Thursday, saying his views were no longer reconcilable with Trump’s.

The president’s twin foreign policy decisions on Syria and Afghanistan have sparked fears they could begin to unspool a series of cascading and unpredictable events across the Middle East and in Afghanistan.

Mattis and other top military advisers last year persuaded Trump to commit thousands of new troops to Afghanistan, where the Taliban were slaughtering local forces in the thousands and making major gains.

An MD 530F military helicopter targets a house where attackers are hiding in Kabul, Afghanistan, August 21, 2018. (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul)

Trump at the time said his instinct was to get out of Afghanistan.

The Wall Street Journal reported that more than 7,000 troops would be returning from Afghanistan.

The pull out comes as the US pushes for a peace deal with the Taliban.

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