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U.S. troop drawdown in Afghanistan on track: officials

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WASHINGTON — The planned withdrawal of more than 30,000 US “surge” troops from Afghanistan will be completed ahead of an end-of-month target date, officials said Friday.

President Barack Obama ordered in reinforcements in December 2009 and last year promised to have the additional troops withdrawn before the end of 2012.

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Commanders had aimed to have the troops out by the end of September and defense officials say the drawdown is ahead of schedule.

US troop levels in Afghanistan, which rose to about 100,000 at the peak of the surge, are now down to 77,000, according to a Pentagon tally. When all the surge forces are withdrawn, the American contingent will be down to 68,000 troops.

In January, there were about 90,000 American boots on the ground and by early August, the force had declined to 84,000.

There are about 40,000 non-US troops deployed in the NATO-led coalition.

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NATO countries plan to pull out the bulk of their combat forces by the end of 2014 after a gradual handover to Afghan army and police.

But the commander of US and NATO troops in Afghanistan, General John Allen, has yet to issue a recommendation to the White House on troop levels for next year.

In an interview with Foreign Policy magazine this week, Allen said he would provide his advice in November — after the US presidential election.

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“My goal now is to have something out of here by the middle of November,” he was quoted as saying.

The general made no mention of the November 6 election but any decision on the pace of the troop drawdown in Afghanistan would become fodder for the hotly contested campaign.

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… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news sites, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

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GOP lawmaker cut the mic on black woman’s facts — but let white men spew ‘lunacy and lies’: report

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The Republican chair of a Tennessee legislative committee is under fire for cutting off the microphone while a woman of color was speaking -- but allowing white men to spew "lunacy."

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The list of confidants and friends who were fêted by the late financier and alleged sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein included a number of prominent scientists. Among the eye-popping names that appeared on the list: the late cosmologist Stephen Hawking, Nobel-winning physicist Murray Gell-Mann, evolutionary biologist Stephen Jay Gould, physicist Frank Wilczek, neurologist Oliver Sacks, and geneticist George M. Church.

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Trump just humiliated his own son with an absurd tweet about Greenland

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President Donald Trump confirmed multiple reports this weekend when he said that he does, indeed, hope to buy Greenland and make it part of the United States.

Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen has said that the country, which is part of the Kingdom of Denmark, is “not for sale”: “Greenland belongs to Greenland.” Which should be the end of the story. Unfortunately, it’s not.

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