The US military is to deploy chemicals to the Afghan countryside for the first time since the Taliban seized power in 2001, according to the US Army.

    The Army said on Tuesday that a small number of soldiers will be sent to the area to help clean up chemical weapons and prepare for possible military use.

    The soldiers will not be able to take part in combat operations but will help train Afghan police, the US defence department said in a statement. 

    “This is a critical step towards providing safe and effective relief to the victims and will help deter future attacks,” the statement said.

    The US military has already sent around 30 soldiers to Afghanistan since the insurgents took power in the country in 2001.

    The Afghan government has said it is prepared to use chemical weapons in self-defence.

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