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U.S. Temporarily Halts Afghanistan Deployments Due To Coronavirus Outbreak

FILE: Men take 'selfie' with their smartphones to pose with Commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan General Austin Scott Miller (C-L), and with Afghan Acting Defense Minister Asadullah Khalid (C-R), in Kabul in Februray.

The United States is temporarily suspending the movement of new soldiers into Afghanistan as a way of protecting them from the coronavirus outbreak.

U.S. Army General Scott Miller said in a March 19 statement that the move may mean that some of the troops already on the ground in Afghanistan may have their deployments extended to ensure the NATO-led Resolute Support mission continues.

“To preserve our currently healthy force, Resolute Support is making the necessary adjustments to temporarily pause personnel movement into the theater,” he said.

“We are closely monitoring, continually assessing and adjusting our operations so we can continue to protect the national interests of the NATO allies and partners here in Afghanistan,” he added.

About 1,500 troops and civilians who recently arrived in Afghanistan have been quarantined, Miller said, stressing this was purely a precautionary measure and “not because they are sick.”

Earlier thismonth the United States began reducing its troops presence in Afghanistan as part of the peace deal signed last month with the Taliban.