London, Aug 16 (ANI): The commander of International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan, General David Petraeus has refused to be bound by the July 2011 deadline for withdrawing US troops from the country, reserving the right to seek a delay, if conditions demand.
Gen Petraeus said the Afghan mission was tough and would remain so.
"The president has been clear... this is the date when the process begins which is conditions-based," the BBC quoted Gen Petraeus, as saying.
Petraeus, who helped turn around the Iraq war for Obama's predecessor, George W. Bush, partly by wheeling and dealing with warring factions, formally took over command of the Afghan war in July this year after Obama dismissed General Stanley McChrystal after he and his staff allegedly made disparaging comments about senior US administration figures.
Obama had been strongly criticized for saying US troops will start coming home in mid-2011. Opponents have said that it sends out the message America is not in the fight for the long-term and adds to the Taliban's resolve to wait it out. (ANI)