Kabul, 28 Rajab 1435/28 May 2014 (MINA) – US President Barack Obama says Washington’s combat mission in Afghanistan will end later this year, but thousands of American troops will stay in the country.
Obama announced on Tuesday that by 2016, some 9,800 troops will remain in Afghanistan, Press TV quoted by Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA) as reporting.
“We have now been in Afghanistan longer than many Americans expected but make no mistake thanks to the skill and sacrifice of our troops, diplomats and intelligence professionals we have struck significant blows against al-Qaeda’s leadership.
We have eliminated Osama bin Laden and we’ve prevented Afghanistan from being used to launch attacks against our homeland,” the president said in the White House Rose Garden.
Obama said the plan to keep US troops in Afghanistan next year depends on the Afghan government signing a long-delayed deal called the Bilateral Security Agreement.
Tension between the two countries is already high, with outgoing Afghan President Hamid Karzai throwing cold water on the agreement.
However, the US president noted that the two candidates who faced off in the run-off of the Afghan presidential election have already agreed to sign the deal.
According to the White House, the remaining troops in Afghanistan will carry two missions. They will continue supporting Afghan forces as well as continuing to support counterterrorism operations against the remnants of al-Qaeda.
At the peak of the war, there were 100,000 troops in Afghanistan and there are about 32,000 forces now.
Meanwhile, Republican senators John McCain, Lindsey Graham and Kelly Ayotte criticized Obama’s decision.
“The president’s decision to set an arbitrary date for the full withdrawal of US troops in Afghanistan is a monumental mistake and a triumph of politics over strategy,” the three Republicans said in a joint statement.
House Speaker John Boehner, a supporter of US military presence in Afghanistan, welcomed the news of US leaving thousands of troops in Afghanistan after 2014.
“I am pleased that today’s decision supports our military’s request for forces, but I look forward to hearing more specifics on how the proposed troop number will adequately cover the defined missions as well as provide appropriate force protection for our military and civilian personnel,” he said in response to Obama’s announcement.(T/P012/E01)
Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA)