NATO announced that up to “a few thousand more troops” will be sent to Afghanistan to assist in the fight against the Taliban.
Ahead of a meeting of defense ministers in Brussels on Thursday, the NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg stated:
“Our military authorities have requested a few thousand more troops for the mission in Afghanistan and today, I can confirm that we will increase our presence in Afghanistan”
The secretary general did not, however, specify the scale of additional support, saying that alliance members “will end the day with a meeting of all nations contributing to our Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan and we will discuss the future of NATO’s presence in the country.”
Stoltenberg also said that 15 out of 29 NATO members have “pledged additional contributions” to the Afghan mission, and more may join.
During his speech, the NATO chief emphasized several times that NATO forces are only “training, assisting and advising” their Afghan counterparts, while combat operations have already been completed.
“What we do now is not to conduct combat operations but to help the Afghans fight and to help the Afghans take full responsibility for the security in their own country.”
More NATO support will be focused on three areas – strengthening the Afghan special operations forces, the development of the Afghan Air Force, and assistance to leadership and education of officers, according to Stoltenberg.
While the move is aimed to “break the stalemate” on the battlefield and pave the way for a political solution, the Taliban earlier warned against such steps, saying that peace cannot be negotiated during “the occupation.”
Kabul has welcomed the decision, according to the deputy spokesman of the country’s defense ministry, Mohammad Radmanish,as cited by AP.