13:12 GMT29 January 2020
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    Western Withdrawal From Afghanistan Comes at Worst Time: Expert on Taliban

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    Pakistani journalist and expert on the Taliban claims that the withdrawal of Western troops from Afghanistan comes at the worst possible moment.

    WASHINGTON, October 27 (RIA Novosti) — The Western pullout from Afghanistan is taking place at the time when the country needs international assistance most, a Pakistani journalist and expert on the Taliban told RIA Novosti on Monday.

    "The withdrawal of Western troops from Afghanistan comes at the worst possible moment, when there is a full-scale Taliban offensive aimed at capturing major territory in southern Afghanistan," Ahmed Rashid said, adding that the new government "needs all the support from the international community."

    The UK Defense Ministry announced on Monday that the country's armed forces had left the final camp in the Helmand Province, in Afghanistan.

    The withdrawal occurs when the Afghan economy is going through a crisis and lack of funds as well as in the absence of a regional agreement for non-interference in Afghanistan by its many neighbors, the expert noted.

    Britain has had a military presence in Afghanistan since October 2001, when troops deployed as part of the NATO response to the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks in the United Kingdom. A total of 453 British soldiers have been killed during the 13 years.

    About 34,000 NATO troops remain in Afghanistan to fight the Taliban insurgency alongside Afghan soldiers and police. NATO's combat mission will end in December.

    In September, Washington and Kabul signed an agreement formally justifying the presence of a limited US military contingent in Afghanistan, after new Afghan President Ashraf Ghani was sworn into office. A follow-up force of some 10,000 troops is likely to stay throughout 2015 on training and support duties.

    The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

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