Taliban Claim Victory As US And Allies Announce The 'End' Of The 13 Year Afghan War
Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan declared the "defeat" of the US and allies
NEW DELHI: The Taliban has declared the defeat of US and its allies in the 13-year-old war in Afghanistan, a day after the coalition officially marked the end of its combat mission.
"ISAF [The NATO-led International Security Assistance Force] rolled up its flag in an atmosphere of failure and disappointment without having achieved anything substantial or tangible," Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid said in a statement emailed on Monday.
“We consider this step a clear indication of their defeat and disappointment,” the Taliban statement said. “America, its invading allies ... along with all international arrogant organisations have been handed a clear-cut defeat in this lopsided war.”
The Taliban went on to slam the US and its allies for unleashing a “fire of barbarism and cruelty” that had drowned the country “in a pool of blood.”
Of course, the formal declaration of the war’s end is a mere technicality, with 10,800 troops sanctioned to stay in the country after the close of the year. The role of these troops was expanded to include targeting Taliban fighters, with it previously having been limited to training the Afghan military and in counterterrorism measures against the Taliban.
The Taliban, meanwhile, have been stepping up their fight within Afghanistan, targeting security forces and international aid agencies.
In fact, a recent report by the United Nations has said that at least 3,188 Afghan civilians have been killed in the conflict in Afghanistan in 2014, making the year the deadliest yet in terms of non-combatant casualties.
Referring to the report, Georgette Gagnon, human rights director for the UN mission in Kabul, said, "The situation for civilians in Afghanistan is becoming increasingly dire.” The figures are till November 30, 2014, and puts 2014 on track to be the first year on record that combined civilian casualties will surpass 10,000.
Compared to the same period last year, civilian deaths were up 19 percent and had already surpassed the previous high set in 2011, when 3,133 civilians were killed. Further, for the first time ground battles between the Taliban and Afghan forces became the main cause of civilian deaths, opposed to planted bombs -- the leading cause of civilian casualties in previous years.
About three-quarters of civilian casualties were caused by Taliban insurgents, who have stepped up efforts to re-establish control by targeting security forces in Afghanistan.
The Taliban, in an emailed statement, denounced the report. "Civilian casualties in the current war are mainly caused by the heavy blind U.S. air bombardments," the militants said, citing disputed reports that a US airstrike killed several schoolchildren last week. The militants asserted that Afghan army, police and militias indiscriminately kill civilians and are such legitimate targets. The statement further slammed the UN for classifying government officials who were assassinated as civilians.
Since the UN began tracking civilian casualties in 2009, a total of 17,252 civilian deaths and 29,536 injuries have been recorded. 2014 has also seen a record number of losses amongst the Afghan security forces -- with more than 4600 killed. Since 2001, nearly 3500 foreign soldiers have been killed, including about 2200 Americans.
The deteriorating security situation is evinced by the fact that the ceremony held to mark the end of the 13-year war in Kabul was held in a secret location for fear of attacks. In the 13 years since the war started, the Taliban remain very much a factor in Afghanistan, controlling vast swathes of territory and condemning the government as illegitimate. The scenario looks more like a Taliban victory than the US and its allies would like to admit.