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Trump agitating for major military withdrawal from Afghanistan, advisers say

The Washington Post

President Donald Trump is agitating for a major withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan beginning soon, U.S. officials said Thursday, signaling a move that many of Trump's senior advisers and military officials have warned will plunge the country further into chaos.

The issue came up at a White House meeting of Cabinet-level officials this week, according to one adviser to the president, who spoke on the condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the issue. The adviser spoke as senior officials at home and abroad reacted to Trump's announcement Wednesday that he wants to withdraw all 2,000 U.S. troops from Syria within weeks.

The president is pressing White House national security adviser John Bolton to make the moves, and Bolton is resisting, the adviser added. Outgoing White House chief of staff John Kelly, a retired Marine general, has opposed Trump's impulses on both countries, but no longer has any lasting power with the president.

The news, first reported Thursday by the Wall Street Journal, is certain to worry senior officials in Afghanistan, who already are battling deteriorating security in the country despite the presence of about 14,000 U.S. troops. And it will be greeted wearily by many senior U.S. military officers, who have launched more airstrikes in Afghanistan this year than in any in the history of the 17-year-old war, the longest in American history.

U.S. military officials did not immediately respond to requests to comment about the news, which broke after midnight in Kabul. Defense officials in the United States also did not immediately respond to the news.

This story first appeared in The Washington Post

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