US troops to stay in Afghanistan through January 2017, says Obama

6 July 2016 (Last Updated July 6th, 2016 18:30)

US President Barack Obama has announced that close to 8,400 troops will stay in Afghanistan through January 2017.

Obama

US President Barack Obama has announced that close to 8,400 troops will stay in Afghanistan through January 2017.

The decision to extend training and advisory support to Afghan forces is based on a recommendation made by US Defence Secretary Ash Carter, US General Nicholson and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Dunford.

US troops will support counter-terrorist operations against al-Qaida and other terrorists, including ISIS, that are attempting to gain a foothold in the country.

Obama initially planned to reduce the number of troops in Afghanistan from 9,800 to 5,500 by the end of 2017.

However, these plans have been scrapped as the situation in Afghanistan remains 'precarious', according to the President.

Obama said: "Instead of going down to 5,500 troops by the end of this year, the United States will maintain approximately 8,400 troops in Afghanistan into next year, through the end of my administration.

"From coalition bases in Jalalabad and Kandahar, we'll be able to continue supporting Afghan forces on the ground and in the air. And we continue supporting critical counterterrorism operations."

The first US troops went into Afghanistan in October 2001 after the 9/11 terror attacks in the US.

"The United States will maintain approximately 8,400 troops in Afghanistan into next year."

The US stopped combat operations in Afghanistan in December 2014.

The Afghan security forces currently have more than 320,000 members.

Obama further added: "My decision today also sends a message to the Taliban and all those who oppose Afghanistan's progress.

"You have now been waging war against the Afghan people for many years. You've been unable to prevail. Afghan security forces continue to grow stronger and the commitment of the international community, including the United States, to Afghanistan and its people will endure."


Image: US President Barack Obama. Photo: courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.