US Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has expressed support for President Barack Obama’s decision to keep thousands of American troops in Afghanistan.
On Thursday, Obama announced plans to keep 9,800 US troops in Afghanistan through 2016 and 5,500 in 2017, reneging on his promise to end the war there and bring home most American forces from the Asian country before he leaves office.
Clinton on Friday called Obama’s move an example of "a leader who has strong convictions about what he would like to see happen but also pays attention to what's going on in the real world."
Obama had originally planned to withdraw almost all US troops from Afghanistan by the end of next year. He just wanted to keep a small, embassy-based military presence in Kabul.
But the Pentagon has been arguing for months that Kabul needed additional US military presence in order to defeat a resurgent Taliban movement.
Clinton, who served as Obama's secretary of state during his first term, said Washington wants to bring American troops home and "we certainly don't want them engaged in on-the-ground combat.”
“We want them to help support and train the Afghan army," she added.
"So I can't predict where things will be in January of 2017. But I support the president's decision," Clinton stated.
According to US officials, Washington would also maintain a large counterterrorism capability of terror drones and Special Operations forces to fight militants in Afghanistan.
The US and its allies invaded Afghanistan on October 7, 2001 as part of Washington’s so-called war on terror. The offensive removed the Taliban from power, but after more than 14 years, the foreign troops have still not been able to establish security in the country.
"We have invested a lot of blood and a lot of treasure in trying to help that country and we can't afford for it to become an outpost of the Taliban and ISIS [Daesh/ISIL] one more time, threatening us, threatening the larger world," Clinton declared.