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Top US general pushes back at national security adviser's troop withdrawal announcement Top US general pushes back at national security adviser's troop withdrawal announcement

October 12, 2020. Summarized by summa-bot.

America's most senior general publicly pushed back Sunday at an announcement by President Donald Trump's national security adviser that the US will aggressively reduce the number of troops in Afghanistan by the end of the year irrespective of conditions on the ground.

(CNN)America's most senior general publicly pushed back Sunday at an announcement by President Donald Trump's national security adviser that the US will aggressively reduce the number of troops in Afghanistan by the end of the year irrespective of conditions on the ground.

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley was responding to comments last week from Robert O'Brien that the US would reduce the number of US troops in the country down to 2,500 by the beginning of 2021, from a current level of about 4,500, stressing that any future drawdowns would be conditions based.

That strategic confusion comes as the Taliban launched a major military offensive against the Afghan government in Helmand Province in the country's south, an attack that prompted US military aircraft to carry out a series of airstrikes against Taliban fighters in recent days.

In February, the Trump administration signed an agreement with the Taliban that committed the US to withdrawing its troops from Afghanistan by the spring of 2021 in exchange for the Taliban meeting a series of commitments including entering into negotiations with the Afghan government and severing its ties with terrorist groups like al Qaeda.

But the conditions on the ground appeared to be deteriorating somewhat in recent days, with the Taliban launching a major offensive against Helmand Province despite the fledgling peace talks being held in Qatar.

The US military carried out "several targeted" airstrikes against Taliban fighters that were attacking Afghan forces in southern Afghanistan over the past two days, a US military spokesperson said Monday, with the top American general in Afghanistan calling on the Taliban to cease their offensive actions.

The Taliban offensive in Helmand and the subsequent US strikes in defense of government troops appear to signify a deteriorating situation on the ground, a development that comes amid ongoing confusion as to the future of the US military presence in Afghanistan.

Since signing the deal with the Taliban in February the Trump Administration has already reduced the number of remaining US troops in Afghanistan by more than 50%.

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