The United States is sending 1,400 more Marines to Afghanistan in an effort to consolidate gains and apply further pressure on the Taliban during the current winter campaign.
Pentagon officials said Thursday the Marines are expected to go within weeks, ahead of a possible escalation in fighting during the spring. The Marines could arrive within weeks but they are only expected to be in Afghanistan for a 90-day deployment.
The Wall Street Journal newspaper quotes unnamed U.S. officials as saying most of the troops will be deployed to southern Afghanistan, the site of heavy fighting against the Taliban in recent months.
In December 2009, President Barack Obama announced a surge of some 30,000 troops in Afghanistan. The new Marine deployment is in addition to that figure. There are currently 97,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan, along with 54,000 troops from other countries. The additional deployment will not put the number of U.S. troops above 100,000, the limit set by President Obama.
Last month, Mr. Obama said enough progress was being made in the war to meet his pledge of starting a withdrawal of some U.S. troops by July and handing over security to the Afghan government by 2014.
Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.