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Robert O’Brien, the White House National Security Adviser, confirmed that the number of US forces in Afghanistan will be reduced to 2,500 by early 2021, in an effort to clarify the ambiguous signals from the US administration about the status of US forces in Afghanistan.

O’Brien said, according to the American Al-Hurra channel, that “US President Donald Trump has set a timetable for withdrawing troops. We will have fewer than five thousand soldiers next month, and by the beginning of the new year it will be 2,500.”

By repeating the timeline he himself announced last week, O’Brien was trying to clarify the ambiguous signals emanating from the executive branch after Trump spoke of a complete withdrawal from Afghanistan by the new year.

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During an online conference hosted by the Aspen Institute, O’Brien said that when Donald Trump tweeted last Wednesday that he wanted to “bring home the courageous men and women who are still serving in Afghanistan by the New Year, he was expressing a wish.”

General Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the US Army, confirmed, a few days ago, that the US withdrawal of more soldiers from Afghanistan depends on reducing the level of violence and other conditions that were agreed upon with the Taliban.

Milley noted that the number of US forces, which was estimated at 12,000, has actually decreased since the agreement was signed with the Taliban in February.

According to the withdrawal schedule, the number of US forces in Afghanistan is supposed to decrease to 4,500 troops by next November, but the Pentagon intends to keep this number until 2021 to monitor how the negotiations progress.