In an open letter, the Taliban have urged US President Donald Trump to withdraw all US troops from Afghanistan, as the commander-in-chief ponders his next move in the country.
“Previous experiences have shown that sending more troops to Afghanistan will not result in anything other than further destruction of American military and economical might,” the Taliban stated in 1,600-word English-language letter, released to the media through spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid.
The letter accused “warmongering” generals and politicians of prolonging the conflict and claiming more and more American and Afghan lives.
The militants said that the only true path to peace was an end to the American presence in the country.
“Everyone now understands that the main driver of war in Afghanistan is foreign occupation,” the letter reads.
“The Afghans have no ill-intention towards the Americans or any other nation around the world but if anyone violates their sanctums then they are mighty proficient at beating and defeating the transgressors.”
The letter claims that Afghan officials are downplaying the seriousness of the situation and that only a fear of causing mass civilian casualties is holding the Taliban back from a large-scale offensive.
Though Trump himself has previously criticized US interventionism abroad, his administration is considering a new strategy there, which could see deploying thousands more troops to the war-torn country as part of the NATO-led coalition, at the request of General John Nicholson, the senior US commander in Afghanistan.
On Monday, Defense Secretary James Mattis said the White House was looking at a number of options for the new US strategy in Afghanistan, which range from a troop surge to increased use of contractors to a full withdrawal.
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s special envoy to Afghanistan, Zamir Kabulov, said the US campaign in the country has failed to meet its goals and that it was time to go.
“Moscow never hastened the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan. But since the US Army [campaign] there has come to nothing, let them leave Afghanistan,” he told Izvestia on Sunday.
“The American campaign in Afghanistan has failed. Afghanistan risks becoming a global incubator of international terrorism. It has, in fact, already partially grown to become it.”
The Taliban are fighting to restore their Islamist rule over Afghanistan, which they enjoyed from 1996 to 2001, when they were the most powerful faction in the country, before being toppled by an American-led invasion. Since then, Washington has spent $780 billion in Afghanistan, according to the National Priorities Project (NPP), in what has become its longest-running conflict, with no clear end in sight. Between 2001 and 2016, the Costs of War Project has estimated that around 173,000 civilians in Afghanistan and Pakistan have been killed.