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NATO To Agree To Send More Troops To Afghanistan

FILE: U.S. troops assess the damage to an armoured vehicle of NATO-led military coalition after a suicide attack in Kandahar province in August.

BRUSSELS -- NATO allies are set to agree on November 9 to increase personnel levels for the alliance's training mission in Afghanistan by about 3,000 troops, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg says.

Stoltenberg told a news conference in Brussels on November 7 that the troops would not have combat roles but would be part of NATO's "train, advise, and assist" mission called Resolute Support.

Half the additional troops will come from the United States and the other half from other members of the 29-nation alliance and partner countries, Stoltenberg said.

Allies are expected to commit troops during two days of NATO defense ministerial talks starting in Brussels on November 8.

The additional NATO troops would take Resolute Support's total to around 16,000 troops, up from around 13,000 today, Stoltenberg said.

"We have decided to increase the number of help the Afghans break the stalemate," Stoltenberg said.

Stoltenberg said there will also be more help to develop the Afghan Air Force.

U.S. Army General John Nicholson (left) and NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg (file photo)
U.S. Army General John Nicholson (left) and NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg (file photo)

U.S. Army General John Nicholson, the commander of the Resolute Support mission and of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, said in February that several thousand more troops would make a difference in weakening the Taliban and other Islamist militants.

U.S. President Donald Trump in August announced a new Afghan strategy. In September, U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said that more than 3,000 additional U.S. troops would be deployed to Afghanistan.

The United States led an invasion to drive Taliban extremists from power after Al-Qaeda militants whose leaders were sheltering in Afghanistan carried out the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.

The U.S., NATO, and other partners had more than 100,000 troops in Afghanistan for a time, but the Taliban has been resurgent since NATO ended combat operations in 2014. The extremist group Islamic State (IS) has also stepped up attacks.

In the latest such attack, gunmen disguised as policemen stormed Shamshad TV station in Kabul on November 7, killing at least two people and wounding two dozen others in an attack claimed by IS.

With reporting by Reuters, AP, and AFP