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Trump: U.S. will maintain 8,600 troops in Afghanistan amid withdrawal

By Daniel Uria
Trump: U.S. will maintain 8,600 troops in Afghanistan amid withdrawal
President Donald Trump said Thursday the United States will maintain 8,600 troops in Afghanistan amid a large withdrawal. Photo by Leigh Vogel/UPI | License Photo

Aug. 29 (UPI) -- President Donald Trump announced plans Thursday to maintain a presence of 8,600 troops in Afghanistan in the midst of a large scale withdrawal from the country.

Speaking during an interview on Fox News Radio, Trump said the United States would decrease its presence to 8,600 troops and then "make a determination" as to what further steps to take.

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"We're not fighting a war over there -- we're just policemen," Trump said. "We could win that war so fast if I wanted to kill 10 million people ... but I don't. I'm not looking to kill a big portion of that country."

Roughly 14,000 troops are stationed in Afghanistan, advising and assisting Afghan forces and conducting counterterrorism operations against groups such as the Islamic State and al-Qaida.

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Trump's comments come after Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen said that the two sides were close to a deal that would have the United States and foreign forces withdraw from Afghanistan in exchange for a commitment from the Taliban to not use the nation to launch terrorist attacks against the United States.

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Full removal of troops from Afghanistan has faced criticism from some opponents who fear such a withdrawal could allow for a resurgence of terrorist groups in the country.

"We may be in such a rush to remove our forces that we find ourselves on the cusp of a strategic blunder," Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., wrote in a Washington Post op-ed on Wednesday. "Any deal that calls for withdrawing our forces completely from Afghanistan is a bad deal for the United States."

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