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Afghanistan requests U.S. air support for combat operations

February 7, 2017 (Photo Credit: Rahmat Gul/AP)
BRUSSELS — Afghanistan's national security adviser is appealing to the U.S. to provide aircraft to back ground operations in the country until Afghan security forces can do the job alone.

Mohammed Hanif Atmar told reporters in Brussels on Tuesday that "we will need a kind of filling-the-gap measure from the United States."

Atmar said "it will take us time" to develop close-air support capabilities, but didn't indicate how long. He said Afghanistan doesn't need more troops.

He also welcomed U.S. reassurances that the new administration remains committed to the Afghan cause, saying that Kabul and Washington should work together "to neutralize common threats" like terrorism.

Afghan forces have struggled to defeat a Taliban-led insurgency since the U.S. and NATO formally concluded their combat mission in late 2014.

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