“We should have the small remaining number of our BRAVE Men and Women serving in Afghanistan home by Christmas!” tweeted U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday.
This came hours after his National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien said Washington would reduce its forces in Afghanistan to 2,500 by early 2021 – they are already down to less than 5,000.
“Ultimately, the Afghans themselves are going to have to work out an accord, a peace agreement. … It’s going to be slow progress, it’s going to be hard progress, but we think it’s a necessary step – we think Americans need to come home,” O’Brien said at an event at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Reuters quoting him as saying.
The U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) also expects around 4,500 American troops by end of November, but they insisted that it would be based on the Taliban meeting the conditions set under the Doha agreement signed in February.
The U.S. president is known for his infamous use of social media, so it is unclear whether this was just him writing out his thoughts or an actual order.
It is expected that the impending elections in the U.S. will impact the administration’s plans at the pace of the withdrawal.
Khalilzad expects faster resolution to differences in Doha
In an interview with TOLOnews, U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad said he expected the Afghan peace talks to be concluded in months, not years.
Speaking about the rise in violence across the country, the envoy said it was strange that the Taliban was adhering to the deal with the U.S. by not attacking foreign troops will continuing to attack Afghans.
“The Taliban attacks are not taking place against the foreign forces…we are happy with that, but, on the other side, the war continues against Afghans,” said Khalilzad.