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US to send over 3,000 additional troops to Afghanistan

The additional troops will bolster approximately 11,000 American personnel already in Afghanistan, where the Taliban controls or contests 40% of the country’s 407 districts.

world Updated: Sep 19, 2017 17:52 IST
US-Afghanistan relations,More US troops for Afghanistan,President Donald Trump
US defence secretary Jim Mattis at a news conference after a NATO defence ministers meeting at the headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, on June 29, 2017. (Reuters)

The US will send more than 3,000 additional troops to Afghanistan to shore up security under President Donald Trump’s new strategy for the war-torn country.

Defence secretary Jim Mattis said on Monday that most of the troops were either on their way or had been notified of their deployment.

“It is exactly over 3,000 somewhat, and frankly I haven’t signed the last of the orders right now as we look at specific, small elements that are going,” Mattis told reporters.

“Most of them are on their way or under orders now and I’d prefer not to give any more information that helps the enemy.”

The troops will bolster the approximately 11,000 American personnel already in Afghanistan, where the Taliban controls or contests 40% of the country’s 407 districts.

Last month, Trump unveiled his new Afghanistan policy aimed at pushing back the Taliban, who continue to mount deadly attacks and control large areas of territory.

Graphic on US troop deployment and death toll in Afghanistan since 2001, plus map showing the latest assessment of Taliban and Islamic State presence in the country. (AFP)

US generals have for months described the situation in Afghanistan as a “stalemate” despite years of support for Afghan partners, continued help from a NATO coalition and an overall cost in fighting and reconstruction to the US of more than $1 trillion.

The war turns 16 next month, and is America’s longest conflict.

The news of the troop deployment to Afghanistan coincided with the US Senate approving a bill that authorises a $700 billion Pentagon budget, $60 billion for wartime missions in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and elsewhere.

Trump had earlier advocated a US withdrawal from Afghanistan but changed his mind after US generals convinced him that the costs of pulling out would be worse than remaining.

His new strategy for Afghanistan will take a page from successful US efforts over the past two years to strengthen Iraqi security forces against the Islamic State group with better training, logistical support and the battlefield backup of US artillery and air strikes on enemy positions.

The US is also pressing NATO partners to increase their troop levels in Afghanistan.

Trump has also criticised Pakistan for providing safe havens to terror groups responsible for attacks in Afghanistan.

First Published: Sep 19, 2017 16:54 IST