US troops to retreat from Taliban strongholds

US-led forces in Afghanistan lost 77 troops in August.A top US military officer in Afghanistan has ordered his commanders to pull troops out of areas where NATO fought bloody battles with the Taliban over the past months.

Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal said the move was because of the realization that the areas were not going to be brought under government control anytime soon, CBS News reported on Tuesday.

The Taliban strongholds reportedly include regions bordering Pakistan where insurgency has skyrocketed over the past months.

The occupation forces have recently suffered heavy losses in southern and eastern Afghanistan where the Taliban has stepped up attacks against coalition troops with roadside bombs and ambushes.

Senior Afghan officials have expressed concern over the move, saying any withdrawal from Taliban-held territories would only make the Kabul government appear even more powerless in the eyes of insurgents.

The developments come after a London-based policy research group said this week that the Taliban had a significant presence in almost every corner of Afghanistan, eight years after their overthrow by US-led forces.

A security map by the International Council on Security and Development (ICOS) showed a deepening security crisis with substantial Taliban activity in at least 97 percent of the war-ravaged country.

The withdrawal comes after US-led forces in Afghanistan lost 77 troops in August, setting a new record. At least 334 foreign troops have been killed in the country in 2009, according to, which tracks coalition casualties.