US President Barack Obama said on Wednesday that he plans to keep 8,400 American troops in Afghanistan until the end of his term, rather than reduce the number to 5,500 by the year-end as previously planned.
“The security situation in Afghanistan remains precarious,” Obama said at the White House. “The Taliban remains a threat. They’ve gained ground in some places.”
Afghan security forces “are still not as strong as they need to be” and they need continued US assistance, Reuters cited Obama as saying.
The role of US forces in Afghanistan will remain unchanged: training and advising Afghan police and troops, and supporting counterterrorism missions against the Taliban and other groups.
Obama’s plan still calls for a reduction in US troop levels from the current roughly 9,800, but not as much as previously planned.
The US president acknowledged that security concerns persist.
Taliban forces now hold more territory in Afghanistan than at any time since the 2001 US-led invasion, according to recent United Nations estimates.
The Islamic State group has also established a small presence in Afghanistan.
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