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US general believes Turkey coup would not affect Afghan mission

AT Monitoring Desk-KABUL: Top American military commander in Afghanistan, Gen. John Nicholson said that the recent coup attempt in Turkey would have no impact on the US-led campaign to support Afghanistan in the war on terror.

In an interview with Associated Press, he said that more than 500 Turkish troops are in NATO mission in Afghanistan. Moreover, he lauded professionalism of senior Turkish military officers who supported the government against the coup plotters. He said he believes the Turkish government is “going to be fine”.

President Barack Obama officially ended the US combat role in Afghanistan in December 2014. He had intended to scale back the military presence to leave only a contingent at the US Embassy in Kabul, but he recently announced that 8,400 US troops would remain when he leaves office. There currently are about 9,800 US troops in the country.

He added that Obama’s decision to allow more aggressive US military action in support of Afghanistan combat operations against the Taliban could have a game-changing effect on the long war.

Nicholson said they had about 20,000 casualties last year, which others have said included 5,000-plus killed in action and 14,000-plus wounded. He said casualties in 2016 are running about 20 percent higher than last year.

The commander said he expects in coming weeks to make increasing use of his wider latitude to support offensive Afghan operations, including as the Afghan security forces turn their attention this month to fighting the Taliban in the east of the country.

“This could include not only more use of US combat airpower but also US reconnaissance and surveillance aircraft and resupply planes,” he said. Other officials have said it may include the use of US air controllers on the ground to help pinpoint targets for airstrikes against the Taliban.

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