United States President Donald Trump has ordered the military to start withdrawing nearly 7,000 troops from Afghanistan, The New York Times reported quoting two defence officials.

A defence official said that Trump made the decision to pull out nearly half the troops from Afghanistan the same time he decided to withdraw US forces from Syria on Tuesday. Secretary of Defence James Mattis announced his resignation on Thursday over disagreement with Trump’s approach to Syria.

The Wall Street Journal first reported the plan to withdraw American forces from Afghanistan.

One of the defence officials said the move to reduce troops in Afghanistan was an effort to make Afghan forces more reliant on their own troops. Mattis and other top military advisors had advised Trump to pledge nearly 4,000 troops to Afghanistan to end the conflict with the Taliban despite the president campaigning to bring troops back to the US.

General John Allen, a former commander of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and US forces in Afghanistan, told CNN on Thursday that the move would be a mistake. “Pulling out [troops] right now, just the announcement would create chaos in the strategy.”

Two weeks ago, the chairperson of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Joseph Dunford, said that he “had not recommended” that the US withdraw. “I had not recommended that we leave Afghanistan because, again, in my judgement, leaving Afghanistan not only would create instability in South Asia, but in my judgement would give terrorist groups the space within which to plan and conduct operations against the American people, our homeland and our allies,” he had said.

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan at the present moment was a “high risk strategy”. “If we continue on our present course we are setting in motion the loss of all our gains and paving the way toward a second 9/11,” he tweeted.