WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration is dropping its plans to cut the number of U.S. forces in Afghanistan to 5,500 by year's end, bowing to military leaders who want to keep more troops there.

U.S. officials say that while no final decision on numbers has been made, the administration plans to slow withdrawal plans and probably will allow many of the 9,800 American troops to remain well into next year.

There also are discussions about keeping a steady number of counterterrorism troops into 2015, including options under which some would remain in the country or be nearby beyond 2016.

Obama has had to send troops back to Iraq to help Iraqi security forces fight Islamic State militants. So his promise to withdraw troops from Afghanistan has taken on more political importance.

Currently, about 2,000 U.S. troops are conducting counterterrorism missions in Afghanistan, and military leaders have argued that they will need to continue pursuing the remnants of al-Qaida and to monitor Islamic State militants looking to recruit there.

(Story by: The Associated Press)


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