WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States plans to send 1,400 additional Marines to Afghanistan to boost its combat forces ahead of the spring fighting season, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday.
The United States, which led a 2001 invasion of Afghanistan that toppled the Taliban, has about 100,000 troops in the country, and President Barack Obama is under pressure to show results so he can begin a promised withdrawal this year.
“The Marine battalion could start arriving on the ground as early as mid-January. The forces would mostly be deployed in the south, around Kandahar, where the U.S. has concentrated troops over the past several months.” the paper said. It cited unnamed officials.
The Taliban are at their strongest since they were ousted form power, although operations against the insurgency have intensified since 2008. More than 700 foreign troops were killed in Afghanistan last year, and civilian casualties were at record levels.
Obama said last month that enough progress was being made in the campaign to meet his pledge to start withdrawing U.S. troops by July and hand over security to Afghan forces by 2014.
Reporting by Mohammad Zargham; Editing by Yoko Nishikawa