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Pentagon to request thousands more troops for Afghanistan next week

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The Pentagon will ask the White House next week to send thousands more troops to Afghanistan to break a deadlocked fight with the Taliban, a senior official said Thursday.

After a steady downsizing of US troop numbers since 2011, US military commanders say they need to strengthen the numbers on the ground to better support Afghan forces and help retake territory lost to the Taliban.

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According to US media, the Pentagon will ask for 3,000 to 5,000 more soldiers, mainly to be assigned to advise and train Afghan military and police.

US troops in Afghanistan number about 8,400 today, and there are another 5,000 from NATO allies, also now in an advisory capacity.

But that is a far cry from the US presence of more than 100,000 six years ago, and the Afghan military has struggled to fill the void amid an unrelenting Taliban insurgency.

“I expect that these proposals will go to the president within the next week,” said Theresa Whelan, Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations, in a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing.

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The intent is “to move beyond the stalemate and also to recognize that Afghanistan is a very important partner for the United States in a very tricky region.”

NATO officially ended its combat operations against the Taliban at the end of 2014, and its current mission is to support Afghan troops in training and advice.

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Last year, with the Kabul government struggling to hold ground against the Taliban, former president Barack Obama authorized US air strikes against the Taliban in limited cases, to ensure Afghan forces on the ground would have a “strategic advantage.”

The new Trump administration could go beyond that to permit more direct engagement between US forces and the Taliban, General Raymond Thomas, commander of the US Special Operations Command, told the same hearing Thursday.

“Changes to the rules of engagement are being considered,” he said.

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Enjoy this piece?

… 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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Watch: Hong Kong protesters gather for mass rally — in test of pro-democracy movement’s support

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Tens of thousands of Hong Kong democracy activists gathered Sunday for a major rally to show the city's leaders their protest movement still attracts wide public support, despite mounting violence and increasingly stark warnings from Beijing.

Ten weeks of demonstrations have plunged the financial hub into crisis with images of masked black-clad protesters engulfed by tear gas during street battles with riot police stunning a city once renowned for its stability.

Communist-ruled mainland China has taken an increasingly hardline tone towards the protesters, decrying the “terrorist-like” actions of a violent hardcore minority among the demonstrators.

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Workers were ordered not to protest or show any ‘resistance’ at Trump rally in Pennsylvania

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Workers in attendance at President Donald Trump's rally at a Shell plant in Pennsylvania on Tuesday were ordered not to protest or do "anything viewed as resistance" during the event.

That's according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, which reported late Friday on the strict instructions employees were given by their bosses ahead of the event.

"No yelling, shouting, protesting, or anything viewed as resistance will be tolerated at the event," read orders from one contractor. "An underlying theme of the event is to promote good will from the unions. Your building trades leaders and jobs stewards have agreed to this."

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Donald Trump and the Republican Party hate America: It’s time to say it out loud

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For most of modern political history, the Republican Party has used patriotism — an odd and obfuscating sentimentality — as a weapon to shame critics of American foreign policy, and turn the general public against dissidents who reject the folly of Empire maintenance through violence. Samuel Johnson’s excoriation — made famous by Bob Dylan — that “patriotism is the last refuge of scoundrels” always seemed accurate in both its denunciation of the manipulative emotion itself, and also of those who take advantage of it for political expediency.

America has collapsed into a prone position, however, where the scoundrels are so brazen in their inhumanity, so bold in their indifference to suffering, and so barbaric in their refusal to compromise for the sake of their own country that only their own language can aptly describe them.

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