16:14 GMT26 November 2020
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    The stationing of foreign troops in Afghanistan is merely a symbolic gesture to show the international community cares about Afghanistan without any real intent to fight the Taliban, analysts told Sputnik.

    MOSCOW (Sputnik), Anastasia Levchenko – The stationing of foreign troops in Afghanistan is merely a symbolic gesture to show the international community cares about Afghanistan without any real intent to fight the Taliban, analysts told Sputnik.

    On Tuesday, the United Kingdom deployed a group of military personnel to the southern Afghan province of Helmand, where Afghan government forces recently suffered a defeat to the Taliban. The US Department of Defense has said that the purpose of the deployment is to train local security forces.

    "This deployment strikes me as more symbolic than substantive in nature. It seems intended to demonstrate that the former Coalition partners still care about Afghanistan," Williams College Afghan Media Project Director David Edwards observed.

    The US-led NATO mission in Afghanistan formally ended its 13-year International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) combat operations on December 31, 2014. At peak deployment in 2012, ISAF forces in the country numbers some 130,000.

    The foreign presence transitioned to a non-combat Resolute Support Mission, with nearly 13,000 foreign training and advice personnel deployed in the country this year.

    The small size and limited focus of the British deployment indicates "little strategic importance," Edwards assessed.

    Wilson Center South Asian and Afghan history specialist Benjamin Hopkins linked the Taliban insurgency’s latest military offensive with wavering foreign support.

    "As international attentions wander and the resources dedicated to Afghanistan dry up, it is no surprise the Taliban are stepping up their efforts and attacks," Hopkins assessed. "I fully expect them to continue to do so, and in turn fully expect the continued presence of Western troops in the country."

    The historian further argued that the current level of foreign troops is "largely designed to hold the line against the Taliban-led insurgency, rather than definitively defeat it."

    The Taliban has recently stepped up its offensive in Afghanistan, seizing entire regions and inflicting deaths on national and foreign personnel this month alone. Military casualties had reached 4,000 by August this year, according to Pentagon estimates.

    US President Barack Obama has said US forces would stay in Afghanistan after next year because of the weakness of the Afghan army and the growing terrorist threat.

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


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