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Pentagon weighs 5,000 additional troops for Afghanistan

The Donald Trump administration is considering plans to deploy as many as 5,000 additional American troops to Afghanistan, a move that could signal a strategy shift years after the US officially ended its combat mission in the country, officials say.

The options, under review by the Pentagon, include between 3,000 and 5,000 conventional military personnel to advise and assist Afghan military and police units in the fight against the Taliban, according to a report by the Military Times.

The Pentagon is also weighing a plan to deploy an unspecified number of Special Operations troops supposedly to escalate ground operations against al-Qaeda and Daesh (ISIL) militants along the Pakistan border.

Two US Army Rangers were killed last week, possibly by friendly fire, during a raid on a purported Daesh position in the volatile border area. Another US soldier was killed there earlier this month.

US Army Gen. John Nicholson, the commander of US and NATO forces in Afghanistan, has submitted his recommendation for a troop boost of a “few thousand” in the war-torn country, US officials in Kabul said.

Nicholson’s recommendation follows separate visits to Afghanistan by two key administration officials, National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis.

The White House is expected to reach a decision in coming weeks and announce any strategy shifts at the NATO security summit in Brussels later this month.

Last week, the Taliban announced the start of its “spring offensive”, a heightened campaign of bombings, ambush attacks, and other raids that begin as weather conditions improve.

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