November 18, 2015 / 11:36 AM / in 2 years

Germany to send 130 more soldiers to Afghanistan

BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany will send 130 more soldiers to Afghanistan, the government said on Wednesday after a cabinet meeting to discuss support for Afghan forces struggling to tackle an Islamist insurgency.

The Taliban’s surprise seizure of the northern city of Kunduz in September, the first time the militants had taken a provincial capital in 14 years, has prompted the U.S.-led military coalition to revise its strategy in Afghanistan.

Although NATO has withdrawn almost all of its combat troops, it still has soldiers stationed there to train local forces. Up to about 850 German troops are in Afghanistan on this mission.

That number will now go up to 980, the government said. German forces are stationed in the north of the country.

German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen said after the fall of Kunduz that she was open to delaying the withdrawal of German soldiers from Afghanistan beyond next year.

President Barack Obama announced last month that some 9,800 U.S. soldiers would remain in Afghanistan through most of 2016, reversing a decision to withdraw all but a small U.S.-Embassy based force in Kabul before he leaves office in January 2017.

The decision was based on an assessment that Afghan forces were not yet as strong as they needed to be.

Reporting by Sabine Siebold; Writing by Joseph Nasr; Editing by Janet Lawrence

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