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U.S. to Withdraw About 7,000 Troops From Afghanistan
WASHINGTON — The Trump administration has ordered the military to start withdrawing roughly 7,000 troops from Afghanistan in the coming months, two defense officials said Thursday, an abrupt shift in the 17-year-old war there and a decision that stunned Afghan officials, who said they had not been briefed on the plans.
President Trump made the decision to pull the troops — about half the number the United States has in Afghanistan now — at the same time he decided to pull American forces out of Syria, one official said.
The announcement came hours after Jim Mattis, the secretary of defense, said that he would resign from his position at the end of February after disagreeing with the president over his approach to policy in the Middle East.
The whirlwind of troop withdrawals and the resignation of Mr. Mattis leave a murky picture for what is next in the United States’ longest war, and they come as Afghanistan has been troubled by spasms of violence afflicting the capital, Kabul, and other important areas. The United States has also been conducting talks with representatives of the Taliban, in what officials have described as discussions that could lead to formal talks to end the conflict.