Esper Gives Go-Ahead to Begin Drawdown of American Forces in Afghanistan by Shawn Snow – Military Times
Secretary of Defense Mark Esper told reporters at the Pentagon Monday that he has given the U.S. commander in Afghanistan approval to begin a drawdown of American troops in Afghanistan.
Following the signing of a deal with the Taliban on Saturday, the U.S. has agreed to reduce its footprint in Afghanistan to 8,600 within 135 days of the signing and complete a total withdrawal of U.S. forces in 14 months.
That deal is “conditions based,” Esper explained to reporters Monday, but he said the U.S. agreed to start the withdrawal process within the first 10 days of signing the agreement with the Taliban.
There are roughly 13,000 American troops in Afghanistan. The U.S. will reduce its forces to 8,600 over the next several months, then assess the situation and progress of the peace process in Afghanistan, Esper said…
U.S. Starts Afghan Withdraw Amid Mixed Messages by Carla Babb – VOA News
Defense Secretary Mark Esper says the United States will begin a partial withdrawal down to 8,600 U.S. troops in Afghanistan in the coming days, as the Taliban and the U.S. issued conflicting messages about future violence in the war-torn nation.
Speaking at a Pentagon news conference Monday, Esper said that the newly-inked U.S.-Taliban agreement requires the U.S. military to start withdrawing forces within 10 days of its signing on Feb. 29.
“This is a conditions-based agreement,” Esper told reporters. “We're watching the Taliban's actions closely to assess whether they are upholding their commitments.”
But it appears U.S. officials and the Taliban have a conflicting understanding about the commitments made within the peace plan.
Esper said the U.S. expects violence in Afghanistan would diminish to ultimately reach a “cease-fire.”…
Afghan Taliban Ends Partial Truce As Deadly Bombing Hits Near Soccer Ground – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty
The Taliban have announced an end to a partial truce in the country as a deadly bomb blast near a soccer field shattered days of relative calm.
The March 2 Taliban announcement came just two days after the militant group and the United States signed a historic deal aimed at ending the nearly 19-year war.
Afghan officials said three civilians were killed and at least seven others were wounded at a soccer match in the eastern province of Khost.
The explosives were placed on a motorbike that had stopped near the soccer field in Nadir Shah Kot district, said the provincial governor’s spokesman, Talib Khan Mangal.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the bombing…