Friday, June 16, 2017

US to send 4,000 more troops to Afghanistan

A White House official has confirmed that the US will deploy an additional 4,000 troops to Afghanistan. The move follows concerns from top commanders that the Afghan army is being pushed back by a resurgent Taliban.
Afghanistan Helmand 2012 - US Marines (Getty Images/AFP/A. Berry)
The Pentagon is getting ready to send some 4,000 additional US troops to Afghanistan, a Trump administration official confirmed on Thursday.
The latest wave of US troops will mainly be deployed to train and advise Afghan forces, following warnings by top US commanders in the region that the local military was facing a resurgent Taliban and a rising threat posed by the so-called "Islamic State" (IS) jihadi group.
According to the White House official, who spoke to The Associated Press news agency on condition of anonymity, a smaller number of US troops would also be assigned to counterterrorism operations in the region.
The Pentagon is expected to announce the decision next week.
The rise in troop numbers follows US President Donald Trump's decision on Tuesday to give Defense Secretary Jim Mattis authority to set troops levels in Afghanistan. The move mirrored an earlier decision by the president to hand over similar powers to Mattis concerning the number of troops involved in the conflicts in Iraq and Syria.
Mattis has repeatedly stressed that increasing troop numbers is vital for the stabilization of Afghanistan. However, he has ruled out ever returning troop levels to what they were in 2010, when more than 100,000 soldiers were deployed in the besieged country.
At least 4 dead in Kabul mosque attack
The rising threat of terror in the regionwas seen earlier on Thursday when a suicide bomber attacked a Shiite mosque in the Afghan capital, Kabul, killing four people and wounding at least eight others.
Among the dead was the leader of Afghanistan's ethnic Hazaras, Hajji Ramazan Hussainzada. IS, which has frequently targeted Kabul's Shiite minority, claimed responsibility for the attack through its Amaq news agency.
Kabul is already on edge following a wave of recent deadly attacks. A massive truck bomb explosion in the capital's diplomatic quarter on May 31 killed more than 150 people, making it the worst attack in its 16-year war.

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