KABUL (Reuters) - The Taliban vowed to keep fighting until all foreign forces left Afghanistan in a statement on Friday to mark the 10th anniversary of the U.S. military campaign in the country.
The group’s fight in the last decade, “even with scarce weapons and equipment...forced the occupiers, who intended to stay forever, to rethink their position,” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said in an English-language statement.
President Hamid Karzai and his Western backers agreed all foreign combat troops would return home by the end of 2014, but the West has promised continued support beyond then in the form of funds and training for Afghan security forces.
October 7 is the 10th anniversary of the U.S. military campaign in Afghanistan, launched after the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States, that helped drive the hardline Taliban government from power.
A spokesman for NATO-led forces fighting in Afghanistan said they had no plans to mark the day.
The progress of the war in Afghanistan has been heavily contested, with both sides claiming to have the upper hand.
Violence has spread in the once-peaceful north and west and insurgents have carried out a string of high profile killings, most recently of a former president. But NATO forces have tightened control of former Taliban strongholds in the south.
“With the passing of the 10-year proud Jihad by the Afghan people against the invaders, we must remind it that divine victory is with us,” the emailed statement from Mujahid said.
“If we hold tightly onto the rope of Allah, avoid insincerity, dissention, hypocrisy and other illnesses, then with the aid of Allah, our enemy will be forced to completely leave our country,” the statement added.
Although foreign troops were initially welcomed as liberators across swathes of anti-Taliban Afghanistan, their presence has brought many deaths, and the billions of dollars channeled into the country funded corruption as much as change.
More than 11,000 civilians are believed to have died in the war, and thousands more have been injured. Insurgents caused about 80 percent of civilian deaths this year, but the presence of foreign forces is seen by some Afghans as the root cause of the suffering.
Reporting by Zhou Xin; Editing by Martin Petty and Philippa Fletcher