US President alters Afghanistan exit plan once more, will leave 8400 troops

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SHAFAQNA – US President Obama said Wednesday that he planned to leave 8,400 American troops in Afghanistan until the end of his term.

During a press briefing at the White House on Wednesday, Obama said that he would leave behind 8,400 American forces by the year-end, nearly 3,000 more than what he had promised last year.

Currently around 9,800 US troops are in Afghanistan, reportedly training Afghan forces to battle militant groups such Daesh and the Taliban.

“The security situation in Afghanistan remains precarious,” Obama said a day before heading to Poland to attend a NATO summit and meet with leaders of other nations engaged in Afghanistan.

“We have to deal with the realities of the world as it is. We can’t forget what’s at stake in Afghanistan. This is where al-Qaeda is trying to regroup, this is where ISIL continues to try to expand its presence,” said the president, who was flanked by Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joseph Dunford.

Obama said last October that he would keep 9,800 troops in Afghanistan through 2016 and slash the level to 5,500 upon leaving office in January 2017.

Having failed to deliver on his campaign promise of ending the war by then, Obama now seems willing to put the fate of America’s longest-running war in the hands of his successor.

“The decision I’m making today ensures that my successor has a solid foundation for continued progress in Afghanistan as well as the flexibility to address the threat of terrorism as it evolves,” Obama said, adding that the situation in Afghanistan directly affects America’s safety.

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