By Katie Reilly
August 23, 2016

The United States has sent about 100 troops to the Afghan city of Lashkar Gah to defend it from Taliban forces, which have seized several neighboring districts and now threaten to overtake the capital of Helmand province.

The soldiers will provide training and support to Afghan troops, the Associated Press reported, citing an announcement by U.S. forces spokesman Brig. Gen. Charles Cleveland on Monday.

Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook also confirmed the deployment at a press briefing on Monday, ABC News reported.

“They’ve gone down there to assist the police zone headquarters and their leadership team with a focused train, advise and assist mission,” Cook said, according to ABC News. “This will not be a permanent presence.”

The Helmand province was originally a focus for U.S. troops because of its role as the epicenter of the country’s opium industry, but troop levels had declined in recent years. There about 8,730 U.S. troops in Afghanistan as of March 2016, the AP reported.

Write to Katie Reilly at Katie.Reilly@time.com.

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