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Britain Pledges To Maintain Afghanistan Troop Presence

File photo of British troops lowering the Union Flag during a ceremony marking the end of operations for U.S. Marines and British combat troops in Helmand in October 2014.

The United Kingdom will keep its current level of troops in Afghanistan past the end of this year and into 2016.

British Defense Secretary Michael Fallon made the pledge in a written statement to Parliament on October 27.

The announcement comes shortly after the United States said it would keep 5,500 troops in Afghanistan past the pullout deadline at the end of this year. NATO asked alliance members to do the same.

"Both the U.S. and our own decisions underline NATO's continued commitment to training and assisting Afghan forces as they grow stronger," Falon said.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani welcomed Britain's announcement, saying international help for the Afghan National Army "augments the commitment and effectiveness of these forces to fulfil their grand mission, and further boosts their morale."

Britain has 450 troops in Afghanistan involved in training Afghan National Army officers, assisting Afghan security ministries, and supporting NATO operations.

NATO ended combat operations in Afghanistan at the end of 2014, leaving in place some 13,000 troops providing training and support under Operation Resolute Support.

Based on reporting by AFP, AP, and Reuters