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Pentagon Says U.S. Likely To Increase Troops In Afghanistan Temporarily To Ensure Safe Withdrawal

There are currently about 2,500 U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan. (file photo)

The U.S. military is likely to increase its troop presence in Afghanistan temporarily in order to ensure a safe withdrawal of all forces from the country by September 11, the Pentagon said on April 16.

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby declined to provide specifics, but said that troops currently in Afghanistan may need various kinds of assistance to complete the withdrawal.

“It’s logical to assume that you may need some logistics help, maybe some engineering help, you may have to add some force protection capabilities -- again temporarily -- just to make sure that the drawdown goes in a safe, orderly, and effective way,” Kirby said at a briefing.

Biden announced on April 14 plans to withdraw all U.S. troops by September 11 -- the 20th anniversary of the attacks that triggered the American and NATO intervention in Afghanistan.

The date is a new deadline for the departure of the remaining 2,500 U.S. troops. U.S. forces had been scheduled to leave by May 1 under an agreement reached between the United States and the Taliban last year. Biden said, however, that the withdrawal would only begin by May 1.

Kirby said it was not clear how many troops would be out of the country by May 1 as a signal to the Taliban that the U.S. was abiding by its new plan.

There are concerns about threats by the Taliban that it will retaliate if the United States does not abide by the May 1 date set by the February 2020 agreement.

Washington has said that any attacks on U.S. or allied personnel would face a strong U.S. reaction.

Kirby also said it's not clear if any U.S. private security contractors will remain in the country but added that the goal is to get all Defense Department personnel out.

Based on reporting by AP