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US begins withdrawing troops from Afghanistan

US begins withdrawing troops from Afghanistan

A top US General said the Washington has reduced its troop level to 8,600 in Afghanistan, fulfilling the first phase of the planned withdrawal as per the deal it signed with the Taliban in February.

The withdrawal of the US forces is a key part of the US-Taliban agreement signed on February 29 in Doha, but US officials have emphasized that the troop pullout will be dependent on conditions on the ground, reports <em>TOLO News</em>.

"What I would tell you now is we have met our part of the agreement," Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, head of the US Central Command, speaking at a panel discussion hosted by the Aspen Institute think tank on Thursday.

"We agreed to go to the mid-8,000 range within 135 days. We're at that number now." The US General did not provide any indication of when, or at what pace, US forces would be further reduced under the agreement.

The US-Taliban agreement also calls for the full withdrawal of the US military from the country by May 2021 if the militant group meets the conditions of the deal, including severing ties with terrorist groups.

Based on the agreement, the US would reduce its forces in Afghanistan to 8,600 within 135 days of signing the deal, which is mid-July. Now it seems that the target has been reached almost 25 days ahead of the agreed date.

The US General said the full withdrawal was an "aspirational" commitment and that "conditions would have to be met that satisfy us that attacks against our homeland are not going to be generated from Afghanistan".

The Taliban had already committed in the agreement to cut their ties with Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups. "We all know already that (the Taliban) are no friends of IS (Islamic State)," <em>TOLO News</em> quoted McKenzie as saying. "What we need to see is what they're going to do against Al Qaeda. And we need to see that in deeds and not words."

McKenzie's announcement came after US President Donald Trump had said last month that he expected a full withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan "as soon as reasonable".

Trump reaffirmed this notion during his remarks to graduates of the US Military Academy over the weekend. "We are ending the era of endless wars … we are not the policemen of the world," he said.

The war in Afghanistan is the longest one in US history. The death toll of US service members has surpassed 2,400 since the country invaded Afghanistan in 2001..