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Over 16,000 foreign troops still in Afghanistan

KABUL: More than 13,160 foreign troops from 40 countries are currently training Afghan security forces as part of NATO’s Resolute Support mission, officials said on Monday.

Additionally, another 3,161 American service-members are conducting counter-terrorism operations in different parts of Afghanistan, one US Army official told Pajhwok Afghan News.

Under new agreements with Kabul, NATO embarked on the mission this year to train and advise the Afghan security personnel and the US was allowed to use several bases for continued counter-terrorism operations.

A NATO source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the Resolute Support Mission involved 40 nations, which also contributed troops to the UN-mandated International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).

He put the current strength of the new NATO mission at 13,195, including 6,839 American, 885 Georgian, 850 German, 650 Romanian, 503 Turkish, 500 Italian, 480 British, 400 Australians and 222 Czech service-members.

The mission features Albania, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Germany, Poland, Greece, Portugal, Hungary, Romania, Iceland, Slovakia, Ireland, Slovenia, Italy, Spain, Latvia, Sweden, Lithuania, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Luxembourg, Turkey, Czech Republic, Estonia, Mongolia, Ukraine, Denmark, Montenegro, the UK, Estonia, the Netherlands, Spain, the US, Finland, New Zealand, Georgia and Norway.

A US military official, meanwhile, said 10,000 American troops were currently based in Afghanistan — 6,839 in the framework of the NATO mission and 3,161 fighting against Al Qaeda remnants, Taliban and their allies.

In response to a query, he said the troops involved in counter-terrorism conducted drone strikes and ground operations. They also extend support to Afghan partners based on security agreements between the two sides.

On the other hand, the NATO source explained US troops in the Resolute Support Mission were not conducting ground operations. “US troops involved in counterterrorism conduct operations appropriate to the situation but I am not able to discuss specific details due to operational security concerns.”  (PAN)

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