In this file photo, American soldiers from the 10th Mountain Division deploy to fight Taliban fighters as part of Operation Mountain Thrust at a US base near the village of Deh Afghan on June 22, 2006 in the Zabul province of Afghanistan. (PHOTO / GETTY IMAGES VIA BLOOMBERG)
WASHINGTON - The United States has withdrawn its troops from five bases in Afghanistan and maintains its force level in the country at mid-8,000s, fulfilling its obligation under the US-Taliban deal signed in late February, the US Department of Defense said Tuesday.
According to the agreement signed on Feb 29 between the US and the Afghan Taliban, the United States would reduce its forces in Afghanistan to 8,600 within 135 days or until July 13
"US forces in Afghanistan remain in the mid-8,000s and five bases formerly occupied by US forces have been transferred to our Afghan partners," Chief Pentagon Spokesperson Jonathan Hoffman said in a statement.
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The bases are reportedly located in southern provinces of Helmand and Uruzgan and eastern provinces of Laghman and Paktika. Foreign military units were stationed in nine military bases across Afghanistan before the troop wtihdrawal.
Hoffman urged all sides to "reduce violence and embark on intra-Afghan negotiations capable of achieving a negotiated and lasting peace for Afghanistan."
According to the agreement signed on Feb 29 between the United States and the Afghan Taliban, the US would reduce its forces in Afghanistan to 8,600 within 135 days or until July 13.
Last month, US Central Command chief General Kenneth McKenzie indicated at an event that the United States had met its obligation ahead of schedule.
"We agreed to go to the mid-8,000 range within 135 days," McKenzie said. "We're at that number now."
Since the signing of the agreement, Afghan leaders, including President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani, have frequently demanded that the Taliban reduce its attacks. The militants, however, have intensified attacks, killing and injuring scores of combatants and civilians.
The government also released more than 4,000 Taliban inmates while the Taliban freed over 600 national security force members after the deal.
Presently, more than 10,000 foreign forces, including 8,500 US troops, are serving in Afghanistan to train and assist domestic forces in the war on the insurgents.
The war in Afghanistan, which has caused about 2,400 US military deaths, is the longest one in US history. President Donald Trump has long complained about it and sought a full withdrawal from Afghanistan.
HONG KONG NEWS