NEW YORK, Dec 29 (APP):President Donald Trump has not yet ordered the Pentagon to pull US troops out of Afghanistan, a White House spokesman said, contradicting reports last week that the president has called for the withdrawal of 7,000 soldiers.
“The president has not made a determination to drawdown U.S. military presence in Afghanistan and he has not directed the Department of Defence to begin the process of withdrawing U.S. personnel from Afghanistan,” Garrett Marquis, a spokesman for the National Security Council, said in an emailed statement to Bloomberg, an international news service.
The reports about withdrawal of forces came as the U.S. was engaged in brokering talks aimed at bringing a more lasting peace to Afghanistan. American officials held talks with Taliban representatives in the United Arab Emirates last week, joined by officials from Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and the U.A.E.
But Friday’s official statement contradicted previous reports published by media outlets from unidentified U.S. officials who said the Pentagon was withdrawing around 7,000 troops stationed in Afghanistan.
There are currently more than 14,000 U.S. service members in Afghanistan, primarily to advise and assist Afghan Security Forces in the fight against al Qaeda and other militant groups.
Trump has long railed against the 17-year-old war, the longest military conflict in U.S. history.
He campaigned on the promise to end “nation-building” missions such as efforts to train Afghan troops but was persuaded by defence officials and then-national security adviser H.R. McMaster to send 4,000 more troops to the country.
Reports of troops’ possible drawdown from Afghanistan came after Trump’s announcement that the U.S. would be withdrawing troops from Syria.
Trump claimed that the U.S. “defeated ISIS in Syria” and called for more than 2,000 U.S. service members fighting the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria and backing Syrian Kurdish forces in the mission to return home.
The sudden decision to pull troops out of Syria was highly criticized and has been widely credited with prompting Defense Secretary James Mattisto resign.
Mattis wrote in his resignation letter that Trump should choose a replacement “whose views are better aligned with yours.”