GOP rep: Fall of Afghan city shows need for U.S. troops

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The fall of the Afghan city of Kunduz to the Taliban has prompted Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) to reiterate his call to leave U.S. troops in Afghanistan.

“The fall of Kunduz to the Taliban is not unlike the fall of Iraqi provinces to [the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria]—it is a reaffirmation that precipitous withdrawal leaves key allies and territory vulnerable to the very terrorists we’ve fought so long to defeat,” said Thornberry, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, in a written statement.

Several media outlets reported Monday that Taliban fighters overran the northern Afghan provincial capital of Kunduz after months of stalemate.

Over the last month, Thornberry has called on the Obama administration to halt the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan, fearing it could become vulnerable to the Taliban, al Qaeda and the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

His latest statement comes after reports surfaced Friday that Defense Department officials are reviewing five options for drawing down troops in Afghanistan.

The options are keeping the U.S. presence after 2016 at the current level of nearly 10,000, reducing to 8,000, cutting the force roughly in half or continuing with plans to go down to several hundred troops at the U.S. embassy in Kabul.

Thornberry said he looks forward to hearing from U.S. Army Gen. John Campbell on the issue next month.

“Next month, Gen. Campbell will testify before the Armed Services Committee,” he said. “I look forward to his assessment of how American and Afghan security can be enhanced if his forces are allowed to stay beyond the end of 2016.”

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