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CENTCOM chief says US to cut troops to 4,500 by November

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(Last Updated On: September 10, 2020)

The United States will draw down to 4,500 American troops in Afghanistan by November, the head of US Central Command said Wednesday night. 

General Kenneth McKenzie said in an interview with VOA: “We’re on a glide slope (in Afghanistan) to be at 4,500 by the November time frame, late October, November time frame.” 

“At 4,500 we’re still going to be able to accomplish the core task that we want to accomplish, and we’ve shown more than ample goodwill in our willingness to demonstrate that we don’t want to be an occupying force in this country, but we do have strategic interests, vital interests, that compel us to be certain that these entities such as al-Qaida and ISIS can’t be guests there to attack the United States,” McKenzie added.

Currently, there are 8,600 troops in Afghanistan – which means at least 4,000 will be withdrawn. 

In July, McKenzie told VOA that inter-Afghan dialogue would need to begin and the US would need to be confident that the Taliban would not host ISIS (Daesh) and al-Qaida terrorist groups before US troops could be greatly reduced in Afghanistan.  

When VOA asked Wednesday what had changed, McKenzie said the Taliban “has still not shown conclusively that they are going to break with al-Qaida” and have “continued to go after the Afghan security forces.”

  VOA meanwhile reported that Bradley Bowman, a defense expert with the Washington-based think tank Foundation for Defense of Democracies, raised concerns Wednesday that the announcement could be due to “a calendar or political motivation with respect to the (US presidential) election.”

“This announcement appears to be larger and faster than anticipated,” Bowman said. 

“This does smack a little bit of a calendar-based withdrawal that we’ve seen time and again is a mistake, but I am pleased that it is not a complete withdrawal.” 

The US presidential election is on November 3.

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Cholera cases rising in Takhar

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(Last Updated On: June 27, 2022)

Cholera and diarrhea cases are rising among children and adults in Afghanistan’s northern Takhar province, local officials said.

Abdul Qahar Ahadi, provincial health director, said that more than 20,000 patients suffering from various diseases visited public health facilities during the past two months, which is unprecedented.

Takhar’s main hospital meanwhile said that most of the visitors were treated for cholera and diarrhea.

Hayatullah Imami, an official at Takhar hospital, said that 30 percent of patients visiting the facility daily were suffering from diarrhea.

Cholera is an acute diarrheal illness caused by infection of the intestine with Vibrio cholerae bacteria.

People can get sick when they swallow food or water contaminated with the cholera bacteria. The infection is often mild or without symptoms, but can sometimes be severe and life-threatening.

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COVID-19

India records spike in daily COVID cases and 21 deaths in 24 hours

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(Last Updated On: June 27, 2022)

India logged 17,073 new COVID-19 cases early Monday morning, raising its tally to 43,407,046, and 21 deaths in the past 24 hours, the health ministry reported.

The death toll now stands at 525,020.

The national COVID-19 recovery rate was 98.57 percent, the ministry said.

Pakistan’s ministry of health meanwhile reported Monday that it had recorded 382 new cases in the last 24 hours.

This took Pakistan’s COVID-19 total case count to over 1.53 million. Two deaths were also reported in the past 24 hours.

However, experts say Pakistan may potentially witness another COVID-19 wave as the country continues to see an uptick in new cases.

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Polio vaccination campaign rolls out in western Afghanistan

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(Last Updated On: June 26, 2022)

More than one million Afghan children are expected to be vaccinated over the next few days in the latest polio vaccination campaign that was launched in western Afghanistan on Sunday.

Officials said the campaign will run for four days and be conducted across four provinces in the western region.

Waheed Rahmani, head of the vaccination campaign, said that 1.1 million children under the age of five are expected to receive the polio drops, including 720,000 in Herat province.

He said that so far there are no obstacles in the way of rolling out the campaign.

Volunteers said that they hope to reach all the children who need to be vaccinated.

“I along with my team will work honestly to make Afghanistan free from polio virus,” said Fina Nezami, a volunteer.

“I hope that Afghanistan becomes polio-free and we are happy to go door to door for vaccinations,” said Yagana Nabizada, another volunteer.

Local health officials have assured the public that all areas will be covered by the campaign.

“We have not forgotten areas, and while planning vaccination programs, all the areas are reviewed and if any area is left out, it will be immediately covered,” said Mohammad Asif Kabir, provincial deputy health director.

Around 728,000 children received polio drops in the previous campaign in Herat. Around 5,000 volunteers are involved in the current campaign in Herat.

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