As part of the withdrawal agreed in the February 29 peace agreement with the Taliban,the US military has begun withdrawing soldiers from Afghanistan, a Pentagon official said on Monday, as reported by news agency AFP. The US has committed to reducing its troop level from more than 12,000 at the moment to 8,600 within 135 days of the agreement, said Colonel Sonny Leggett, spokesman for US forces in Afghanistan.

Even with the drawdown, US forces retain “all the military means and authorities to accomplish our objectives, including conducting counter-terrorism operations against al-Qaeda and ISIS-K and providing support to the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces,” Leggett said in a statement.

The Taliban have agreed to sever ties with al-Qaida and other international terror groups like ISIS-K and sit down for peace talks with other Afghans, including a government they have always denounced as a US puppet. In return, Washington will start withdrawing its troops in a phased manner.

Troop levels will be cut to 8,600 over the next 135 days and five bases will be closed. If both sides keep to their commitments, all US military forces could leave Afghanistan by spring 2021, although Washington is thought to want to keep intelligence operatives on the ground fighting Isis and al-Qaida.