Perils of US withdrawal from Syria

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The sources cautioned that President has not yet made a final decision, but officials are concerned and convinced that he might do so, and soon.

"The reality of an urgent and hasty withdrawal will be seen as a defeat and as a retreat", said Amrullah Saleh, the country's former spy chief.

An American official told The Times an American withdrawal would help make local forces more self-reliant, but whether they are ready is another question.

The government in Kabul sought to downplay the news, saying the withdrawal won't affect the country's security situation, despite the Taliban's resurgence since the bulk of US forces left four years ago. USA forces have been leading a Kurdish-formed coalition to fight Islamic State militants in the war-torn nation.

Bill Roggio, an Afghanistan analyst with the US-based Foundation for Defence of Democracies, said: "A complete withdrawal of USA forces would very likely cause the Taliban to make gains in key areas throughout Afghanistan". They believe the US abandoned the country after using it as a battleground to defeat its Cold War enemy in a proxy fight, he said.

Drawing comparison with the massive withdrawal of United States troops in 2014, the president's chief adviser, Fazel Fazly, insisted that Afghan forces were capable of maintaining security.

Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid would not comment about the troop withdrawal when contacted by AFP.

Analysts say the reported plan would undermine renewed USA efforts to persuade the Taliban to engage in an intra-Afghan dialogue to end decades of hostilities in the country.

Afghan troops have struggled against the Taliban and have suffered consistently high casualties, even with USA troops and aircraft in support. The US has wanted India to play a key role in the peace process in Afghanistan although New Delhi has steered clear.

Graham, who over the past year or so has been a staunch supporter of Trump, has broken with him on the Syria decision. It is likely the Taliban, emboldened by recent battlefield successes, will only become more aggressive as USA deployments dwindle. Mattis tried to convince Trump to reverse his decision or at least let some troops remains, but Trump refused, according to reports.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said last month that almost 30,000 ANDSF forces had been killed in the fighting since 2015.

"That decision has been made". "This will also force the Afghan government to think about peace as a short-term prospect instead of something that could be delayed for years".

Earlier this month, the incoming commander of U.S. Special Operations Command, Lieutenant Richard Clarke, told senators the Taliban was thought to be around 60,000-strong-a much higher number than has been estimated by the military in the past.

Bali said the Kurdish forces would keep locked up the Islamic State extremists in their custody - but alleged that Turkey may target prisons to sow chaos once USA troops leave.

But even if the foretold massacres did not take place, it would leave Russian Federation as the main foreign power in the country, fulfilling Putin's objective to gain a strategic foothold in the Mediterranean Sea region.

But a withdrawal could be good if it ultimately results in the Taliban entering productive peace talks, said Shahla Farid, a law and political science professor at Kabul University.

U.S. President Donald Trump considers the war in Afghanistan a lost cause and has long pushed to pull the troops out. I just want to say, Jim is a tremendous officer, a tremendous leader, and the quality of the service that he's provided to our country is certainly very, very significant.