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US Reduces Troops in Afghan Valley


The U.S. military says it plans to reduce troops in one of Afghanistan's most dangerous valleys in order to focus on areas where it can have a greater impact.

The commander of U.S. forces in eastern Afghanistan, Major General John Campbell, says troops will begin pulling out from bases throughout the Pech Valley. The remote area near the Pakistani border was once a central part of the campaign against the Taliban and al-Qaida.

Campbell says the realigning of forces is designed to provide better security for the Afghan people. He said that currently, too many troops in the Pech Valley are tied up guarding small combat outposts.

Afghan officials have expressed reservations about the move, saying it will be difficult for Afghan forces to defend the area against insurgents on their own.

U.S. officials say the shifting of troops to more populated areas will be complete in several months.

Elsewhere in the east, Afghan government investigators say recent NATO operations in Kunar province killed at least 62 civilians, including women and children.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Sunday condemned the killings and ordered a probe into the coalition ground and air raids in Ghazi Abad district. Karzai said at least 50 people were killed there last week.

NATO officials said Friday they will not comment on the Afghan probe's findings until the coalition completes its own investigation into the allegations.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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