'US to withdraw 33,000 troops from Afghanistan by 2012'

Barack Obama
Washington, Jun 23: The United States will withdraw all 33,000 Americans troops from Afghanistan by the summer of 2012, beginning with an initial drawdown of 10,000 surge forces by this year-end, President Barack Obama said.

"Starting next month, we will be able to remove 10,000 of our troops from Afghanistan by the end of this year, and we will bring home a total of 33,000 troops by next summer, fully recovering the surge I announced at West Point (in December 2009)," Obama said in a nationally televised speech from the White House on Jun 22.

"After this initial reduction, our troops will continue coming home at a steady pace as Afghan Security forces move into the lead. Our mission will change from combat to support. By 2014, this process of transition will be complete, and the Afghan people will be responsible for their own security," he said.

The US President said America was starting the drawdown from a position of strength, asserting that al-Qaeda was under "more pressure" than at any time since 9/11.

"Together with the Pakistanis, we have taken out more than half of al-Qaeda's leadership. And thanks to our intelligence professionals and Special Forces, we killed Osama bin Laden, the only leader that al-Qaeda had ever known," he said.


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