US to extend military presence in Afghanistan beyond 2016

President Barack Obama has confirmed plans to extend the US military presence in Afghanistan beyond 2016. Obama said the US would keep 5,500 troops in the country when he leaves office in 2017. The US military says more troops will be needed to help Afghan forces counter a growing Taliban threat. There are currently 9,800 US troops stationed in Afghanistan. The US forces will be stationed in four locations – Kabul, Bagram, Jalalabad and Kandahar.

Obama pointed out the ending of Nato combat operations in December last year had come at a price, with many Afghan troops and civilians killed since the Taliban stepped up its insurgency. He described the mission in Afghanistan as “vital to US national security interests”.

Did You Know?

  • The Buddhas of Bamiyan were two 6th-century monumental statues of standing buddha carved into the side of a cliff in the Bamyan valley in the Hazarajat region of central Afghanistan.
  • They were dynamited and destroyed in March 2001 by the Taliban, on orders from leader Mullah Mohammed Omar, after the Taliban government declared that they were idols.

  • After fourteen years, on 7 June 2015, a Chinese adventurist couple Xinyu Zhang and Hong Liang filled the empty cavities where the Buddhas once stood with 3D laser light projection technology.

Test Your GK

Recently Taliban captured a city in Afghanistan. What is the name of the city?

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Answer – Kunduz. (Afghan troops later recaptured Kunduz)

Who is the current President of Afghanistan?

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Answer – Mohammad Ashraf Ghani