Trump pulling 2,000 US troops from Afghanistan and more soldiers from Iraq by the end of his term
DONALD Trump is set to pull 2,000 US troops from Afghanistan and more soldiers from Iraq by the end of his term.
The Defense Department is set to cut the number of troops in Afghanistan from 4,500 to 2,500 by January 15.
An additional 500 soldiers will be withdrawn from Iraq – with the figure dipping from 3,000 to 2,500.
Shortly after the news broke, Iraqi security officials said that two Katyusha rockets hit inside Baghdad's fortified Green Zone near the US Embassy.
Acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller announced the cuts on Tuesday.
Miller said the decision fulfills Trump's pledge to bring forces home when conditions were met that kept the US and its allies safe.
He added that commanders and advisers agreed with the withdrawal plan before refusing to take questions from reporters.
"This is consistent with our established plans and strategic objectives, supported by the American people, and does not equate to a change in US policy or objectives," Miller said.
Moments later, the top Republican in the Senate, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, warned against any major changes in US defense or foreign policy in the next couple of months – including major troop drawdowns in Afghanistan and Iraq.
A senior defense official told reporters that the move was a "collaborative decision" between the president and his "senior most military officials."
The new plan will accelerate withdrawing the troops in Trump's final days in office, despite arguments from senior military officials in favor of a slower, more methodical pullout.
US and Afghan officials are warning of troubling levels of violence by Taliban insurgents and persistent Taliban links to al Qaeda.
It was those ties that triggered US military intervention in 2001 following the al Qaeda September 11 attacks on the United States.
Thousands of American and allied troops have died in fighting in Afghanistan since then.
The senior defense official told reporters on Tuesday that talks with the Taliban "are still very much ongoing" and confirmed "our goal is the peace deal."
White House national security adviser Robert O'Brien said that it is Trump's hope that all US troops will be home from Afghanistan and Iraq by May.
"By May it is President Trump's hope that they'll all come home safely and in their entirety," O'Brien told reporters following the Pentagon announcement.
The withdrawal stops short of his pledge on October 7, when Trump said on Twitter: "We should have the small remaining number of our BRAVE Men and Women serving in Afghanistan home by Christmas!"
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