By Phil Stewart and Idrees Ali
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Donald Trump is considering significantly drawing down troops from Afghanistan, two U.S. officials told Reuters on Thursday, in the latest sign his patience is thinning both with America's longest war and overseas military interventions, generally.
The U.S. officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said thousands of the 14,000 troops could be sent home as a result of the deliberations, the disclosure of which could undermine ongoing peace efforts with the Taliban.
The Pentagon declined comment. White House officials could not be immediately reached for comment.
The drawdown, if confirmed, would follow Trump's decision to completely withdraw all U.S. forces from Syria - a move that has bewildered allies and triggered harsh reaction from Republican allies in Congress. It has also alarmed U.S. military commanders.
More than 2,400 U.S. forces have died in the 17-year-old war in Afghanistan, and Pentagon officials have repeatedly warned that a precipitous exit would allow militants to develop new plots on America like the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks that plunged the United States into an era of open-ended warfare.
Trump last year approved an increase in U.S. troops but acknowledged that he did so reluctantly. U.S. officials have told Reuters that Trump has been keen to bring the Afghan conflict to a close.
The Taliban insurgency have strengthened its grip over the past three years, with the government in Kabul controlling just 56 percent of Afghanistan, down from 72 percent in 2015, a recent U.S. government report showed.
Late last month, at least 22 Afghan police were killed in a Taliban ambush in Afghanistan’s western province of Farah, adding to the growing casualty toll on Afghan security forces fighting an increasingly confident insurgency.
(Reporting by Phil Stewart and Idrees Ali; editing by Grant McCool)
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Updated Date: Dec 21, 2018 05:05:28 IST