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COVID-19 pushes US Afghanistan withdrawal ahead of schedule

27th May 2020 - 15:30 GMT | by The Shephard News Team

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US troop numbers in Afghanistan will be reduced to approximately 8,600 faster than planned, according to US and NATO sources cited by Reuters.

The current troop levels put the planned withdrawal ahead of the schedule set out in February 2020 in an agreement between the Taliban and the US government. However, the Afghan national government was not included in the talks between the Taliban and the US, triggering some concerns over the stability of the deal.

There were plans to reduce the US presence in Afghanistan to 8,600 soldiers by mid-July, with a further aim of a full withdrawal by May 2021 if conditions permit.

US officials reportedly stated that concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic have accelerated the US pullout from Afghanistan, with numbers expected to drop below the 8,600 target in mid-June.

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