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US to keep 9,800 troops in Afghanistan at year-end

Troops for AfghanistanThe United States will keep 9,800 U.S. troops in Afghanistan after the final withdrawal of U.S. combat forces in December and then will scale back most of those forces by the end of 2016, President Barack Obama said on Tuesday.

The two-year plan is contingent on the Afghan government signing a bilateral security agreement with the U.S. While outgoing Afghan President Hamid Karzai has declined to sign the agreement, U.S. officials are confident that either candidate seeking to replace him would give his approval.


Ex-Blackwater guard indicted on murder charge

Nicholas SlattenA former Blackwater Worldwide security guard accused of taking part in a 2007 shooting of Iraqi civilians at a Baghdad traffic circle has been indicted on a new first-degree murder charge as the case moves closer toward trial, prosecutors said Friday.

The federal grand jury indictment of Nicholas Slatten came just weeks after a judge dismissed all charges against him because of statute-of-limitation concerns.


US military deaths in Afghanistan at 2,179

Military deaths afghanistanAs of Tuesday, April 29, 2014, at least 2,177 members of the U.S. military had died in Afghanistan as a result of the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan in late 2001, according to an Associated Press count.

The AP count is two less than the Defense Department's tally, last updated Tuesday at 10 a.m. EDT.

At least 1,803 military service members have died in Afghanistan as a result of hostile action, according to the military's numbers.


U.S. report offers grim portrait of Afghanistan’s future

half finished police station in afghanistanAs Afghanistan prepares to hand over power to a new president and U.S. combat forces depart, the United States’ special inspector general for the war-torn country paints a bleak picture of its long-term prospects in a new report to Congress.

The report, of which McClatchy obtained an embargoed copy before its Wednesday release, said corruption is so widespread in Afghanistan that it threatens the U.S. long-term reconstruction effort.


5 NATO troops killed in Afghan helicopter crash

helicopter crash afghanistanFive NATO troops died in a British helicopter crash Saturday in southern Afghanistan, authorities said, the single deadliest day this year for foreign forces as they prepare to withdraw from the country.

The helicopter crash came as an Afghan university official identified two Americans killed in a shooting at a Kabul hospital earlier this week, the latest incident of local security forces opening fire on those they are supposed to protect.


NATO airstrike that kills Afghan soldiers deals fresh blow to ties

Afgan soldiers hit by drone strikeA NATO airstrike on Thursday morning killed at least five Afghan soldiers and injured at least eight others in a tragic incident of friendly fire that is likely to further inflame the battered Washington-Kabul relations.

The strike, which hit an Afghan National Army outpost in the country’s volatile Logar Province, located about 50 miles from Kabul, came from a drone, according to The New York Times. It was most likely “the result of poor coordination between the people on the ground and the operators of the drone,” the Logar provincial spokesman told the newspaper. A Logar provincial spokesman described the outpost as the “the front line against Taliban,” the Washington Post reported.


The Toll Of 5 Years Of Drone Strikes: 2,400 Dead

Drone deathsThe U.S. drone program under President Barack Obama reached its fifth anniversary on Thursday having tallied up an estimated death toll of at least 2,400 people.

As the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, a U.K.-based non-profit, details on its website, five years ago the CIA conducted the first drone strikes of the Obama presidency. Although there were reports of suspected "militants" killed, at least 14 civilians also died that day.

After those initial mistakes, TBIJ notes, Obama rapidly ramped up the drone program in Pakistan and increased its use in Yemen and Somalia, two countries where al Qaeda affiliates expanded their presence during Obama's presidency.


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