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Esper: U.S. will cut troop levels in Afghanistan to 'less than 5,000'

FILE PHOTO: Secretary of Defense Mark Esper testifies during a House Armed Services Committee hearing on 'Department of Defense Authorities and Roles Related to Civilian Law Enforcement' in Washington, DC, U.S. July 9, 2020. Greg Nash/Pool via REUTERS

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States plans to cut its troop levels in Afghanistan to “a number less than 5,000” by the end of November, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said in an interview broadcast on Saturday, adding detail to drawdown plans U.S. President Donald Trump announced earlier this week.

The United States currently has about 8,600 troops in Afghanistan. Trump said in an interview released Monday by Axios that the United States planned to lower that number to about 4,000.

Esper announced the lower troop levels in a Fox News interview.

Reporting by Brad Heath; Editing by William Mallard

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