‘US forces in Afghanistan, Iraq reduce to 2,500 level’
Washington, Jan 16 (IANS) The Pentagon has confirmed that US troops in Afghanistan and Iraq have reduced to 2,500.
Acting Secretary of Defence Christopher Miller said in a statement on Friday that the drawdown in Afghanistan has resulted in the reduction of US forces in the country to the lowest level since the war began, reports Xinhua news agency.
“Moving forward, while the Department continues with planning capable of further reducing US troop levels to zero by May of 2021, any such future drawdowns remain conditions-based,” he added.
In a separate statement, Miller confirmed US force levels in Iraq also dropped to 2,500, saying that the reduction reflected “the increased capabilities of the Iraqi Security Forces”.
The forces drawdown plans in Afghanistan and Iraq were announced by Miller in November 2020, on orders from President Donald Trump.
US media questioned that the rapid drawdown in Afghanistan might violate a measure in the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act, which authorises Congress to ban the funding for further force reductions in the country without a detailed report from the Pentagon.
The war in Afghanistan, which has caused about 2,400 US military deaths, is the longest one in American history.
Trump has long sought a full withdrawal from the country, but some of his senior aides from the military and the Pentagon had suggested a more cautious approach.
The US and Afghan Taliban signed an agreement in late February 2020, which called for a full withdrawal of American military forces from Afghanistan by May 2021 if the militant group met the conditions of the deal, including severing ties with other terrorist organisations.