KABUL: The Taliban’s reclusive leader Mullah Omar has issued an Eid message claiming victories on the battlefield against NATO and defending initial contacts, now suspended, with the US.
The rare statement by the militants’ leader, said by the Afghan government to be based in neighbouring Pakistan, came on the eve of Eid-al-Fitr celebrations marking the end of the holy month of Ramazan.
The “unique distinction” of this year’s summer offensive by the Taliban was that it had reached all areas of the country and forced NATO and Afghan government troops to adopt defensive positions, he said.
Omar claimed that a spate of green-on-blue attacks, in which Afghan forces turn their weapons against Nato personnel, was the result of Taliban infiltrating local security units.
Nato, which has some 130,000 US-led troops in Afghanistan, has acknowledged a spike in such incidents this summer, but says most are motivated by cultural differences between troops and plays down the role of Taliban infiltration.
A total of 37 foreign troops have been killed in green-on-blue attacks this year.
In an apparent move to allay fears among some Taliban factions, Omar said in the seven-page message posted on the group’s website that initial talks with the United States “had not meant submission or abandoning our goals”.
Instead they had been aimed at initiating an exchange of prisoners, opening a political office and to “reach our goals”, he said, noting that the Taliban had suspended the talks earlier this year.
Omar said the Taliban “will make efforts to reach an understanding with the Afghan factions in due time following (the) pull-out of the invaders”.
Nato troops are due to withdraw by the end of 2014.
The Taliban has always refused to negotiate directly with the Western-backed government of Afghan President Hamid Karzai.
Attempting to counter its reputation for the brutal suppression of women’s rights, Omar said a Taliban government would “give all legitimate rights to women in the light of the Islamic principles, national interests and our noble culture”.
The Taliban were in power from 1996 until being ousted by a US-led invasion in 2001 for harbouring al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in the wake of the 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington.
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