US to cut troops in Afghanistan

Donald Rumsfeld, the US defence secretary, has signed orders that will reduce the number of American troops in Afghanistan to 16,000 from 19,000 by next spring.

    Rumsfeld has signed orders to cut troop numbers by 3000

    The orders mean the Louisiana-based Fourth Brigade of the 10th Mountain Division will deploy only 1300 soldiers to Afghanistan instead of all 4000 as previously scheduled, a senior military officer told The New York Times on Tuesday.

    The troops staying at home will be on standby, the official told the newspaper, speaking on condition of anonymity.

    Pentagon spokesman Larry Di Rita told the newspaper the decision to reduce a portion of the army unit scheduled to replace the 173rd Airborne Brigade, now in southern Afghanistan, was based on recommendations from the senior US commanders in Afghanistan and the Middle East.

    Di Rita was quoted as saying: "The overall level of security forces in the country, Nato's role, and the political developments are all moving in the right direction."

    A Pentagon spokesman was not immediately available for comment.

    Rumsfeld signed the troop reduction orders on Monday and a formal Pentagon announcement is expected on Tuesday, The New York Times said.

    The American troop reduction has been anticipated since Nato agreed to assume control of an American command in southern Afghanistan next year, the report said.

    Nato is looking to raise its 9000-strong ISAF peacekeeping force to about 15,000 troops from early next year. It will spread its bases in the north and west, and the capital Kabul, to the more volatile south, a base for many insurgents.

    SOURCE: Agencies


     How Britain Destroyed the Palestinian Homeland

    How Britain Destroyed the Palestinian Homeland

    Ninety-nine years since Balfour's "promise", Palestinians insist that their rights in Palestine cannot be dismissed.

    Afghan asylum seekers resort to sex work in Athens

    Afghan asylum seekers resort to sex work in Athens

    In the rundown Pedion Areos Park, older men walk slowly by young asylum seekers before agreeing on a price for sex.

    Profile: Osama bin Laden

    Profile: Osama bin Laden

    The story of a most-wanted fugitive and billionaire.