Pentagon orders remaining active-duty troops to leave Washington area

Troops arrive at the Joint Force Headquarters of the DC National Guard on June 2, 2020 in Washington DC. PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - The Pentagon will be sending back the remaining 900 active-duty troops who were sent to the Washington DC, area to potentially respond to civil unrest, and they are expected to start heading back to their home bases, a US official told Reuters.

The official said on condition of anonymity that US Defence Secretary Mark Esper had made the decision and the troops would be heading back to Fort Bragg in North Carolina and Fort Drum in New York.

While the troops were in the National Capital Region, they were not deployed to Washington and were on standby in case they were needed.

On Thursday, the Pentagon ordered about 700 active-duty troops from the 82nd Airborne Division to return to Fort Bragg.

The official said a decision was made to send them back because enough National Guard troops had arrived in the city.

There are about 5,000 National Guard personnel either in Washington or on their way to assist law enforcement.

Like cities countrywide, the US capital has been rocked by a week of protests against police brutality and racism following the death of George Floyd, a black Minneapolis man who died after a white police officer knelt on his neck.

Shops and offices in Washington and nearby areas were hit by night-time vandalism and looting after peaceful demonstrations last weekend, prompting Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser to impose a 7pm curfew on Monday and Tuesday.

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