February 25th, 2014
08:16 PM ET

No bluff: U.S. planning possible withdrawal of all troops from Afghanistan

By Barbara Starr and Tom Cohen

We're not bluffing, the Obama administration told Afghanistan on Tuesday in announcing for the first time it has started planning for the possible withdrawal of all U.S. troops by the end of the year if no security agreement is signed.

Statements by the White House and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel showed President Barack Obama's impatience with Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai's refusal to sign the agreement that would keep several thousand American troops in the country after combat operations conclude this year.

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U.S. launches push to gain release of soldier Bowe Bergdahl
February 18th, 2014
01:00 PM ET

U.S. launches push to gain release of soldier Bowe Bergdahl

By Barbara Starr

The U.S. government is engaged in a new effort to negotiate the release of the lone American soldier held in captivity - Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl.

The push is fueled by concern over his health and the pending departure of most, if not all, U.S. troops from Afghanistan at the end of 2014.

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February 13th, 2014
02:33 PM ET

Afghanistan releases 65 prisoners despite strong U.S. objections

By Tom Watkins and Jethro Mullen

Citing a lack of evidence, Afghan authorities released from prison 65 men Thursday over strong objections from U.S. officials, who said they pose a threat to security forces and civilians.

"We took this decision according to our law," said Mohammad Ishaq Aloko, the Afghan attorney general.

In a statement posted on its website, the U.S. Embassy in Kabul called the move "deeply regrettable," saying the Afghan government "bears responsibility for the results of its decision."

Abdul Shukor Dadras, head of the Afghan Review Board, said the attorney general ordered the releases from the Parwan Detention Center - formerly known as Bagram prison - after a careful review of 88 cases.

The U.S. military in Afghanistan said some of the men are linked to attacks that killed or wounded 32 American or coalition service members and 23 Afghan security personnel or civilians.

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U.S. slams Afghanistan's plans to release 65 prisoners
Afghan authorities say they don't have enough evidence to keep 65 prisoners the U.S. calls "dangerous insurgents" behind bars in Bagram prison.
February 12th, 2014
06:45 PM ET

U.S. slams Afghanistan's plans to release 65 prisoners

By Catherine E. Shoichet

The United States calls them "dangerous insurgents."

But Afghan authorities say they don't have enough evidence to keep the 65 prisoners behind bars.

Abdul Shukor Dadras, head of the Afghan Review Board, said Afghanistan's attorney general ordered the prisoners' release from Bagram prison after a careful review of 88 cases.

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U.S. commander in Afghanistan to meet with Obama on troops
January 27th, 2014
12:42 PM ET

U.S. commander in Afghanistan to meet with Obama on troops

By Barbara Starr

The top U.S. commander in Afghanistan is headed to Washington for an expected meeting with President Barack Obama in coming days to discuss future troop levels in Afghanistan, a U.S. military official said on Monday.

Gen. Joseph Dunford, along with the Pentagon, is proposing 10,000 American troops and 2,000 to 3,000 NATO forces be kept on duty after combat operations end at the close of the year.
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January 15th, 2014
01:54 PM ET

Source: Missing U.S. soldier Bowe Bergdahl seen in video

By Jim Sciutto

The U.S. military has obtained new video apparently made by those holding the lone American prisoner of war, Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl.

A U.S. military official told CNN the clip shows the Wood Valley, Idaho, native in diminished health from the effects of close to five years in captivity.

He was seized in Afghanistan in June 2009 and is believed held by the Taliban-aligned Haqqani network in Pakistan, the official said.

The so-called proof-of-life video, the first of him in nearly three years, has a reference to December 14, 2013.

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First on CNN: U.S. says Taliban behind deadly helicopter crash in Afghanistan
January 9th, 2014
02:48 PM ET

First on CNN: U.S. says Taliban behind deadly helicopter crash in Afghanistan

By Barbara Starr

CNN has learned the U.S. military has concluded that Taliban insurgents brought down a Black Hawk helicopter in Afghanistan on December 17, killing six American troops on board.

It was the single deadliest day for U.S. forces in Afghanistan since a helicopter wreck killed seven Americans and four Afghans in August 2012.

That conclusion follows weeks of confusion and conflicting intelligence reports about what was behind the crash. FULL POST

Christmas Day attacks show security challenges in Iraq and Afghanistan
December 25th, 2013
11:04 AM ET

Christmas Day attacks show security challenges in Iraq and Afghanistan

By Lateef Mungin

Two car bombs targeting Christians killed at least 38 people in southern Baghdad on Christmas.

In Afghanistan, two rounds of "indirect fire" hit the U.S. Embassy compound in Kabul, but no one was hurt.

The incidents highlight the security challenges with which both Iraq and Afghanistan are grappling.

Both countries have had a heavy U.S. military presence until recently.

The departure of U.S. forces from Iraq has done little to curb the near-daily cycle of violence. In Afghanistan, U.S. and Afghan officials are working on an important security pact to outline the future of American troops in Afghanistan.

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Filed under: Afghanistan • Iraq • Terrorism
Hagel: Afghan minister says security pact to be signed in 'timely manner'
December 8th, 2013
06:27 AM ET

Hagel: Afghan minister says security pact to be signed in 'timely manner'

By CNN Staff

U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel says his Afghan counterpart assured him that an important security pact will be reached with Kabul in a "timely manner," despite a failure so far to forge a deal.

Hagel made the remark during a visit to Afghanistan on Saturday. What is known as the bilateral security agreement - ready to be implemented but still unsigned - initially has been front and center in Hagel's visit.

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Filed under: Afghanistan • Hagel • Karzai • Military
Dempsey: No U.S. troops in Afghanistan possible, but no withdrawal plans yet
December 4th, 2013
06:32 PM ET

Dempsey: No U.S. troops in Afghanistan possible, but no withdrawal plans yet

By Jennifer Rizzo and Shirley Henry

Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey said Wednesday he clearly understands a complete withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2014 - known as the "zero option" - is a "possibility" given Afghan President Hamid Karzai's current unwillingness to sign the security pact that would govern some troops remaining in his country beyond that time frame.

But Dempsey also said he has not been told to plan for such a withdrawal.

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