The United States has begun the initial, gradual withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan in keeping with the peace agreement signed with the Taliban on Feb. 29. The Pentagon confirmed this despite the political chaos surrounding the Kabul government.
Under the peace agreement, U.S. forces will be reduced from 13,000 to 8,600 over the next 135 days said Colonel Sonny Leggett, spokesman for the American command in Afghanistan. The U.S. and the NATO allies will completely withdraw all of their troops within 14 months if the Taliban hold up their end of the agreement.
“In accordance with the U.S.-Islamic Republic of Afghanistan Joint Declaration and the U.S.-Taliban Agreement, U.S. Forces Afghanistan (USFOR-A) has begun its conditions-based reduction of forces to 8,600 over 135 days,” Leggett said.
The U.S. retains “all the military means and authorities to accomplish our objectives, including conducting counterterrorism operations” in Afghanistan despite the withdrawal of troops, Leggett added in the statement. The U.S-led coalition continues the fight against ISIS and al-Qaeda that still operate in the country.