Top US general says more troops needed in Afghanistan

FILE - In this Wednesday, Dec. 28, 2016, file photo, Afghan security personnel inspect the site of roadside bomb blast in Kabul, Afghanistan. The U.N. mission in Afghanistan says the number of civilian casualties in the country’s conflict rose by 3 percent in 2016. The U.N. 2016 Annual Report on the Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict in Afghanistan was released Monday, Feb. 6, 2017. (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The top U.S. commander in Afghanistan says he needs a “few thousand” more troops to properly train and advise the Afghan military.

Gen. John Nicholson didn’t provide an exact number while testifying Thursday before a Senate committee. He says the additional forces could come from the U.S. or its allies.

There are currently about 8,400 U.S. troops conducting counterterrorism operations against insurgents and working with Afghanistan’s military.

Nicholson also says Russia’s meddling in Afghanistan is problematic. He says Moscow has been publicly legitimizing the Taliban by asserting its militants are fighting Islamic terrorists while the Afghan government is not. The general says this is a “false narrative.”

Nicholson says Afghan security forces have cut the number of Islamic State fighters by half and reduced the territory they hold by two-thirds.