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US to keep pressure on IS, Al Qaeda in Afghanistan: CENTCOM

Washington: Kenneth McKenzie, Commander of the US Central Command (CENTCOM), has said that Washington will seek to “keep pressure” on the Islamic State (IS) and Al Qaeda terror groups in Afghanistan, a media report said.

“We will still do everything we can to keep pressure on the IS and Al Qaeda, from our over-the-horizon locations,” TOLO News quoted McKenzie as saying in an interview with Military Times.

Regarding a recent UN report warning that the Taliban appeared poised to take back control of Afghanistan, McKenzie said: “We still intend to support the Afghan military from just over the horizon. We’re still going to support them with funding.

“We’re going to try very hard to support the Afghan air force over the horizon; some things will come out of the country to be worked on.

“I don’t want to minimize this, because I think they’re going to be tested, but we will continue to support them, just not in the way we are supporting them now.”

Asked if the US would provide any combat support to Afghan forces if major cities such as Kabul were at risk of being overrun, McKenzie said: “Those are actually policy decisions, not military decisions. Right now what we’re planning to do after we withdraw is keep pressure on Al Qaeda and IS, and that would be what we’d be doing, going back into Afghanistan.”

The withdrawal of international troops is due to be completed by September 11 at the latest.

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‘US troop withdrawal from Afghanistan 30-44% complete’

Washington: The US Central Command has said that an estimated 30 to 44 percent of American troops have been withdrawn from Afghanistan until last month.

The US aims for 100 percent removal of its military from the war-torn country by September 11 this year.

The US has also officially handed over six facilities to Afghanistan’s Ministry of Defense, the US Central Command (CENTCOM) said in an update.

Since the President Joe Biden’s decision, the Department of Defense has retrograded the equivalent of approximately 300 C-17 loads of material out of Afghanistan and have turned nearly 13,000 pieces of equipment to the Defense Logistics Agency for disposition, CENTCOM said.

The US and the Taliban signed a landmark deal in Doha on February 29, 2020, to bring lasting peace to war-torn Afghanistan and allow US troops to return home from America’s longest war.

Under the US-Taliban pact, the US has agreed to withdraw all its soldiers from Afghanistan in 14 months. There are currently 2,500 American troops left in Afghanistan, the lowest level of American forces in the war-torn country since 2001.

Since the US-led invasion that ousted the Taliban after the September 11, 2001 attacks, America has spent more than USD 1 trillion in fighting and rebuilding in Afghanistan.

About 2,400 US soldiers have been killed, along with tens of thousands of Afghan troops, Taliban insurgents, and Afghan civilians.

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