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Taliban Defiant As U.S. Extends Afghan Troop Presence

U.S. soldiers take part in a NATO patrol on the final day of a monthlong anti-Taliban operation by the Afghan National Army (ANA) in various parts of eastern Nangarhar Province on August 30.

The Taliban in Afghanistan have reacted defiantly to a U.S. decision to delay the reduction of its forces in that country.

"Maintaining American troops in Afghanistan can in no way slow down the rapid progress of our jihad and struggle," said a written statement issued on October 16.

U.S. President Barack Obama earlier announced the United States will keep its nearly 10,000 troops in Afghanistan through next year and will keep 5,500 troops in the country in 2017.

Reuters quoted one Taliban commander as saying the decision "means they aren't sincere about a peaceful solution to the Afghan crisis."

Meanwhile, Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi said on October 16 that Italy will likely agree to a U.S. request that it extend the presence of some 750 Italian troops in Afghanistan into next year.

Based on reporting by Reuters and AP