Taliban welcome US troop drawdown from Afghanistan as 'good step'
The Pentagon announced Tuesday that the US will slash troop levels in Afghanistan and Iraq to their lowest levels in nearly 20 years of war after President Donald Trump pledged to end conflicts abroad.
"The sooner the foreign forces leave, the more the war will be prevented."
Critics have expressed concerns that a precipitous departure could embolden the Taliban and erode gains made since 2001, when US-led forces ousted the hardline Islamists in the wake of the September 11 attacks.
Under a deal signed February 29, the Trump administration agreed to pull all foreign forces from the country by May 2021.
"We should not create additional hurdles -- something that a hasty withdrawal from Afghanistan would most certainly lead to".
The US-Taliban deal, signed in Doha, paved the way for peace talks to start between the Taliban and Afghan government on September 12.
In the months since, negotiators have made almost no tangible progress and talks now appeared stalled.
"The Afghan security and defence forces are already conducting 96 percent of the operations independently and are prepared to continue to defend the country against our enemies," Afghan National Security Council spokesman Rahmatullah Andar said.
Since the US-Taliban deal, the Pentagon has shut several military bases across Afghanistan and rotated thousands of soldiers out of the country.