Pentagon says US has withdrawn from 5 bases in Afghanistan as part of agreement with Taliban

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FORT CARSON, CO – JUNE 15: A soldier salutes the flag during a welcome home ceremony for troops arriving from Afghanistan on June 15, 2011 to Fort Carson, Colorado. More than 500 soldiers from the 1st Brigade Combat Team returned home following a year of heavy fighting and high casualties in Afghanistan’s southern Kandahar province. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

AFGHANISTAN (CNN) — The Pentagon announced Tuesday that the US has withdrawn from five bases in Afghanistan and reduced the size of its forces there as part of the agreement it entered into with the Taliban earlier this year.

“US forces in Afghanistan remain in the mid-8,000s and five bases formerly occupied by US forces have been transferred to our Afghan partners,” Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman said in a statement.

“US military presence in Afghanistan remains focused on capabilities — not numbers. We maintain the capabilities and authorities necessary to protect ourselves, our Allies and partners, and US national interests,” Hoffman said.

The statement makes no mention of the Taliban’s continued links to al Qaeda, something referenced in a Defense Department report earlier this month.

In late February, the US and the Taliban signed a historic agreement, setting into motion the possibility of ending America’s long involvement in the war, which has stretched nearly two decades.

The “Agreement for Bringing Peace to Afghanistan” outlined a series of commitments from the US and the Taliban related to troop levels, counterterrorism and the intra-Afghan dialogue aimed at bringing about “a permanent and comprehensive ceasefire.” The agreement laid out a 14-month timetable for the withdrawal of US military forces, its allies and coalition partners.

CNN reported in May that data provided to the Pentagon’s special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction showed that in the month following the signing of the peace deal, the Taliban increased their attacks on America’s Afghan allies to levels higher than usual.

The US-led international military operation in Afghanistan told the inspector general that from March 1 to March 31, “the Taliban refrained from attacks against Coalition Forces; however they increased attacks against (Afghan National Defense and Security Forces) to levels above seasonal norms.”

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