Washington: As the United States approaches into the 10th year of its combat operation in Afghanistan, President Barack Obama said that the leadership of Al-Qaeda remains anchored in the border regions of Pakistan and Afghanistan.
"As we approach our 10th year of combat in Afghanistan, there are those who are understandably asking tough questions about our mission there. But we must never lose sight of what`s at stake," Obama said in his address to the nation to announce the end of combat mission in Iraq.
"As we speak, al-Qaeda continues to plot against us, and its leadership remains anchored in the border region of Afghanistan and Pakistan. We will disrupt, dismantle, and defeat al-Qaeda, while preventing Afghanistan from again serving as a base for terrorists," Obama said.
The president said because of US drawdown in Iraq, it was now able to apply the resources necessary to go on offence.
"In fact, over the last 19 months, nearly a dozen al-Qaeda leaders and hundreds of al-Qaeda`s extremist allies have been killed or captured around the world," he said.
Obama said within Afghanistan, he has ordered the deployment of additional troops, who under the command of General David Petraeus, are fighting to break the Taliban`s momentum.
"As with the surge in Iraq, these forces will be in place for a limited time to provide space for the Afghans to build their capacity and secure their own future. But, as was the case in Iraq, we cannot do for Afghans what they must ultimately do for themselves," he said.
He said the US was training Afghan Security Forces and supporting a political resolution to Afghanistan`s problems.
"And, next July, we will begin a transition to Afghan responsibility."
He said that the pace of the US troop reductions would be determined by conditions on the ground, and US support for Afghanistan will endure.
"But make no mistake: this transition will begin - because open-ended war serves neither our interests nor the Afghan people`s," said the US President.