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Trump’s NSA says thousands of US forces will remain in Afghanistan beyond Christmas

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(Last Updated On: October 16, 2020)

US National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien said Friday that 2,500 American soldiers will remain in Afghanistan beyond Christmas, dismissing US President Donald Trump’s tweet stating that all American troops in Afghanistan should be home by Christmas.

O’Brien also took a swipe at US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley, who in an interview with NPR on Sunday suggested that US National Security Advisor’s announcement about the withdrawal plan from Afghanistan was ‘speculation.’

Milley said anyone “can speculate as they see fit. I am not going to engage in speculation. I’m going to engage in the rigorous analysis of the situation based on the conditions and the plans that I am aware of and my conversations with the president. And then when we get to the point where we have further discussions and further decisions, those will be appropriately made public.”

About Milley’s remarks, O’Brien said: “It has been suggested by some that that’s speculation. I can guarantee you that’s the plan of the president of the United States.” 

“That’s the order of the commander-in-chief, that’s not speculation,” he noted.

O’Brien stated that It is not his practice to speculate, “Other people can interpret what I say as speculation, but…When I’m speaking, I’m speaking for the president and I think that’s what the Pentagon is moving out and doing.”

Referring to Trump’s tweet saying that US troops should be home by Christmas, the US NSA said that Trump was “expressing the same desire” of every wartime president—to get troops home by Christmas.

In February, the US-brokered a deal with the Taliban in Doha that was conditions based and included the full withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan. Since then troop levels have reduced from 13,000 to 8,600 with a further reduction to 4,500 expected by November.

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District governor killed in an ambush in Logar

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(Last Updated On: October 20, 2020)

Abdul Hai Zazai, the governor of Zazai Maidan district in Khost province, was killed in a targeted attack in Logar province.

According to local officials, Zazai was ambushed and killed by unknown armed men in Logar’s Altamur area while he was traveling to the capital Kabul.

The incident took place on Monday afternoon.

The officials stated that one of the Zazai’s bodyguards was also killed and another one was wounded in the attack.

No group or individual has claimed responsibility for the attack.

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NATO reaffirms financial support for Afghan forces through 2024

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(Last Updated On: October 19, 2020)

NATO reiterated commitment to providing financial support to the Afghan security forces through 2024.

In a statement released on Monday, NATO said that its allies and partners met at the plenary meeting of the Afghan National Army Trust Fund Board to review the implementation of their financial contributions in support of the Afghan security forces.

According to the statement, the members of the organization discussed their financial contributions to the Afghan forces for 2021 and “reiterated their commitment to providing financial support to the Afghan security forces through 2024.”

“Today’s commitments help underpin the confidence that our financial support to the Afghan security forces will continue to be strong beyond 2020,” NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg stated in the meeting.

“International funding support to the Afghan forces is a key pillar of our commitment to Afghan security. As of 5 October 2020, total cumulative contributions made to the Trust Fund since its establishment amount to over 3,2 billion US dollars,” Stoltenberg pointed out.  

The NATO-run Afghan National Army Trust Fund was created in 2007. It has played a vital role to enhance the effectiveness and sustainment of the Afghan security forces by funding activities ranging from installation of donated equipment to training, literacy courses, professional military education, and capacity building.

The Trust Fund is open for contributions by the broader international community. It is one of three funding streams used by the international community to channel its financial support to Afghanistan’s security forces and institutions.

The other two are the Law and Order Trust Fund for Afghanistan (LOTFA), administered by the United Nations Development Programm, and the United States Afghanistan Security Forces Fund (ASFF).

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Global coronavirus caseload crosses the 40 million mark

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(Last Updated On: October 19, 2020)

The number of COVID-19 cases worldwide passed the 40 million mark on Monday, according to a Reuters tally. 

Reuters reported that this comes as the onset of winter in the northern hemisphere appears to have fuelled a resurgence in the spread of the disease. 

Experts however believe the true numbers of both cases and deaths are likely much higher, given deficiencies in testing and potential under-reporting by some countries.

The Reuters data shows the pace of the pandemic continues to increase as it took just 32 days to go from 30 million global cases to 40 million, compared with the 38 days it took to get from 20 to 30 million, the 44 days between 10 and 20 million, and the three months it took to reach 10 million cases from when the first cases were reported in Wuhan, China, in early January.

Reuters also reported that record one-day increases in new infections were seen at the end of last week, with global coronavirus cases rising above 400,000 for the first time.

The United States, India, and Brazil remain the worst affected countries in the world. 

 

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