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Al Qaeda may return to Afghanistan: British PM

Last Updated: Sunday, August 5, 2012 - 14:41

London: British commanders have warned Prime Minister David Cameron that Afghanistan`s future could be jeopardised if foreign troops are withdrawn too quickly, as this would give an opportunity to al Qaeda to return.

Senior sources have disclosed that Cameron has been told that the current plan to give control of the country`s security to the Afghan forces next year may need to be ``diluted``.

According to The Telegraph, British commanders believe that the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF), the Army and police, are not yet fully capable of taking over from international forces.

"The Afghan Army is not going to be ready to take the lead in operations next year, that is certain," one source said.

Under current plans, the ANSF are supposed to take over responsibility for security by the middle of 2013, and all International Security and Assistance Force (ISAF) troops will be withdrawn from combat operations by the end of 2014.

David Cameron and Barack Obama have agreed the timing. It would mean that Britain`s current deployment of 9,000 soldiers would be reduced significantly next year, and that after 2014, only a small number of UK forces would remain in Afghanistan, mostly as advisers to the Afghan military.

Cameron has also been told that the Taliban could regain power in Afghanistan if foreign troops are withdrawn too quickly from the country. The Ministry of Defence has calculated that ending combat operations by late 2013, a year earlier than planned, would save GBP 3 billion. Defence chiefs have strongly insisted that British troops must maintain a strong presence in the country until the end of 2014.


First Published: Sunday, August 5, 2012 - 14:41

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