US to keep thousands of troops in Afghanistan

US President Barack Obama orders to keep more than 5,000 US troops in Afghanistan after he leaves office in 2017

Photo by: AP
Photo by: AP

Commander of U.S. and Nato forces in Afghanistan, General John F. Campbell, center, listens during a change of command ceremony in Resolute Support headquarters in Kabul, Afghanistan, Thursday, Oct. 1, 2015.

Updated Oct 16, 2015

Senior American officials have said that President Barack Obama has decided to keep 5,500 troops in Afghanistan beyond 2016, neglecting his promise of ending the war in Afghanistan.

Obama had announced earlier that he would withdraw US troops from Afghanistan by the end of the next year.

According to officials, Obama’s plans in Afghanistan is expected to maintain the current US troops in Afghanistan through the next year, then reduce their presence to around 5,500 troops in 2017.

The pace is still to be decided by the commanders as the officials said in condition of anonymity because they have not had the authority to speak ahead of the president.

Obama's decision to extend the American presence on the Afghani grounds make his successor the third commander-in-chief to oversee the war and attempt to end it.

The Afghan government and the United States have signed a security deal in 2014, allowing 10,000 US troops to remain in the country after NATO’s combat mission ended in December 2014.

The deal was refusedby former president Hamid Karzai after US demanded immunity from prosecution for its troops. He stated his concerns over Western troops would raid Afghan homes.

In late April the Taliban announced that it had started a “spring offensive” and increased attacks on governmental and foreign targets.

Afghan authorities have repeatedly tried to start talks with the Taliban to end the 13-year conflict between the group and the government. But the Taliban has stipulated conditions including the withdrawal of all foreign troops from Afghanistan.

In December, NATO’s combat mission formally ended, however a small foreign force of about 12,500 mainly US troops has stayed in the country to train local security forces.

The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan said almost 1,000 civilians were killed during the first four months of this year.

Marja district of Helmand province was the focus of a major US-led military operation carried out to wipe the insurgent group early in 2010.

TRTWorld and agencies