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War on Al Qaeda still not over: Acting Pentagon chief

War on Al Qaeda still not over: Acting Pentagon chief

Nov 15, 2020 - 14:48

KABULinfo-icon (Pajhwok): Acting Pentagon chief Christopher Miller has said the United States remains committed to finishing the war against Al Qaeda since 2001 and is "on the verge of defeating" the terrorist group.

"This fight has been long, our sacrifices have been enormous, and many are weary of war - I'm one for them," he said, according to a memorandum issued by the Pentagon on Saturday.

The acting US defense secretary also said all wars must end and ending wars requires compromise and partnership.

“We met the challenge: we gave it our all. Now, it's time to come home," Miller wrote in his first message to all employees of the Department of Defense. But he did not mention Afghanistaninfo-icon

The war in Afghanistan, which has caused about 2,400 US military deaths, is the longest one in US history.

Miller, a US special forces veteran who fought in this war, was appointed by President Donald Trump on Monday as acting secretary of defense to replace former Pentagon chief Mark Esper.

The message indicated that he might accelerate the pace to pull US troops out of Afghanistan. Currently, there are around 4,500 US troops in the country.

Trump has long sought a full withdrawal from Afghanistan, but some of his senior aides from the military and the Pentagon suggested a condition-based withdrawal, a more cautious approach.

Trump previously tweeted that he wanted troops returning home by Christmas. His National Security Adviser Robert O'Brien later noted that Trump's tweet was only an expression of desire, saying US troops in Afghanistan would be reduced to 2,500 level by early 2021.

The United States and Afghan Talibaninfo-icon signed an agreement in late February, which called for a full withdrawal of the US military forces from Afghanistan by May 2021 if the Taliban meets the conditions of the deal, including severing ties with terrorist groups.

Commander of US Central Command Kenneth McKenzie said that the Taliban "had not shown conclusively that they're going to break with Al Qaeda."

On the other hand, NATOinfo-icon says foreign forces withdrawal from Afghanistan is based on conditions and they would make decisions considering the situation.

The message from the US defense secretary comes as three important Al Qaeda members were killed in operations in Afghanistan in recent days.

The UN and the Afghan government say Al Qaeda still maintains close relations with the Taliban, a claim the insurgent group rejects.



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