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February 24, 2021

US troops to start Afghan withdrawal next year

WASHINGTON – The US has stopped the momentum of the Taliban in Afghanistan and will begin withdrawing troops from Afghanistan next summer, an Obama administration review said yesterday, according to ‘The Guardian.’ Taliban momentum has been “arrested in much of the country and reversed in some key areas, although these gains remain fragile and reversible,” the five-page summary said.

The review indicated that the administration was “setting conditions” to begin the “responsible reduction” of troops in July. The overview of the long-awaited report contained little evidence to back up its conclusions and is considerably more upbeat than a separate, gloomier report carried out by the US National Intelligence Estimates. This report, which represents the collective view of 16 US agencies including the CIA, said the chance of success was limited unless Pakistan tackled safe havens for the Taliban along its side of the border.

The Pentagon said the intelligence report was based on out of date information, and failed to take account of successes over the past few months following the troop reinforcements. The actual White House assessment document is classified and will not be made public, but interested members of Congress will be briefed on it in January. Obama last year ordered an increase of 30,000 US troops in Afghanistan, taking the total to 100,000. Although a decision on the precise number to be withdrawn in July will not be taken until closer to the time, 20,000 could leave without making a significant difference to the conflict, yet be enough to send a signal to the American public that there is an exit strategy, according to officials.

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