Washington's peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad attends the inauguration ceremony for Afghan President Ashraf Ghani at the presidential palace in Kabul, Afghanistan, Monday, March 9, 2020. (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul)

US begins troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, official says

March 09, 2020 - 12:09 pm

WASHINGTON (AP) — American troops have begun leaving Afghanistan for the initial troop withdrawal required in the U.S.-Taliban peace agreement, a U.S. official said on Monday, amid political chaos in Kabul that threatens the deal.

Hundreds of troops are heading out of the country as previously planned, but they will not be replaced as the U.S. moves ahead with plans to cut the number of forces in the country from about 13,000 to 8,600, the official said.

The official spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity to discuss the movement ahead of a public announcement.

The pullout comes as Afghanistan's rival leaders were each sworn in as president in separate ceremonies on Monday, creating a complication for the United States as it figures out how to move forward on the deal and end the 18-year war.

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