The United States began withdrawing troops from Afghanistan, while also praising Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s promise to start releasing Taliban prisoners.
Ariana News Agency-
The U.S.-Taliban deal signed on Feb. 29 was touted as Washington’s effort to end 18 years of war in Afghanistan. The next crucial step was to be intra-Afghan talks in which all factions including the Taliban would negotiate a road map for their country’s future.
But Ghani and his main political rival, Abdullah Abdullah, were each sworn in as president in separate ceremonies on Monday.
Abdallah and the elections complaints commission had charged fraud in last year’s vote. The dueling inaugurations have thrown plans for talks with the Taliban into chaos, although Ghani said Tuesday that he’d start putting together a negotiating team.
U.S. military spokesman in Afghanistan Sonny Leggett said in a statement Tuesday that the military had begun its “conditions-based reduction of forces to 8,600 over 135 days.”
Currently, the U.S. has about 13,000 soldiers in Afghanistan – 8,000 of whom are involved in training and advising the country’s National Security Forces, while about 5,000 are involved in anti-terror operations and militarily supporting the Afghan army when they are requested.