More than a hundred U.S. troops were sent to Lashkar Gah, Afghanistan on Monday to continue fighting the Taliban, in the first deployment of forces to the area since the drawdown in 2014—offering another signal that the U.S. military presence there is expanding, not decreasing, as President Barack Obama has promised.
The Guardian reports:
Since late July, the Taliban have seized new territory across Helmand, defying a series of about 30 U.S. airstrikes, and raising concern of an attack on the capital. The militants have also stepped up attacks in the country’s north, closing in on Kunduz, which they briefly captured last year.
Brigadier General Charles Cleveland told reporters on Monday that the deployment would be “temporary,” but would not say how long it would last, citing “security reasons.”
Sources in Helmand say about 130 U.S. troops have arrived to their base in the region, theGuardian writes. Cleveland said they would act as a “new presence to assist the police zone.”
In July, the government watchdog group Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR) reported that the Afghan government had lost five percent of its territory to the Taliban, meaning it had less than two-thirds of the country’s districts—and that Taliban fighters now claim more ground than at any time since 2001.
That’s despite more than $68 billion in U.S. funding to the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces.
Omer Zwak, spokesperson for the provincial governor in Helmand, said there were also plans for yet more U.S. troops to assist Afghan soldiers in Lashkar Gah.