Afghan president thanks Trump for U.S. troop increase

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on Thursday thanked U.S. President Donald Trump for the decision to increase U.S. troop presence in Afghanistan. Ghani said the move was “an immense change on the ground” that amounted to a difference of day and night, adding that the cloud of uncertainty had been lifted. Report says the Pentagon is increasing the number of U.S. troops by 3,000 after Trump in August announced his administration’s strategy in Afghanistan. Ghani, however, sought to reassure the U.S. that his military would take the lead. He said “victory is within our sights, we do not ask for a blank cheque, we are determined to do what is ours.” Trump said he felt “great progress” was being made and vowed to attack terrorists in the “hornet’s nest” of extremism. In announcing the strategy in August, Trump did not specify the number of troops he would send, but the Pentagon recently said it would send over 3,000 additional troops. The U.S. military currently has some 11,000 soldiers in Afghanistan. Report says the Taliban controls about 11 per cent of the country, while another 30 per cent is contested, while terrorist group Islamic State is also present in the country. The U.S. deployed military trainers in Afghanistan within the framework of the NATO mission Resolute Support. According to report, it also conducts airstrikes independent of NATO under its own combat mission called Operation Freedom Sentinel, and has Special Forces on the ground. (dpa/NAN)

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