Taliban pledge to continue fighting as Obama approves US troops to stay through 2015

The Taliban says it has been left with no alternative but to continue its fight against the US. They made the statement hours after President Barack Obama delayed withdrawing American troops, saying the US would stay in Afghanistan until the end of 2015.

The announcement from the Taliban came from spokesman Zabihullah Mujaahid, who said that the decision by President Obama to leave 9,800 US troops in Afghanistan was not going to do anything to help a resurgent Taliban continue peace talks with the Afghan government.

“Obama’s announcement to continue to keep troops in Afghanistan is a response to the peace efforts,” Mujahid told AFP.

“This damages all the prospects for peace. This means the war will go on until they are defeated,” he added.

The Taliban were incensed by a decision by President Obama to leave US troops in Afghanistan through 2015. He was planning to cut the number of troops from the current 9,800 to 5,000 by the end of this year, withdrawing completely by the end of 2016.

However, Obama has since backtracked, and with the blessing of Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, has decided to keep US forces in the Central Asian nation for longer. The US president has still stated that he intends to honor the country’s proposed pullout at the end of 2016.

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“The date for us to have completed our drawdown will not change,” he said, according to Reuters. “Providing this additional timeframe during this fighting season for us to be able to help the Afghan security forces succeed is well worth it.”

Since being elected to power in September 2014, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has tried to initiate a peace process with the Taliban, to try and end their 13-year campaign against the Afghan government and its foreign backers – primarily the US.

President Ghani is currently on a visit to Washington, and he met with US Secretary of State John Kerry on Monday. During their meeting, Kerry said the US was fully committed to Afghanistan and it would show the Taliban that Washington was “prepared for the long-term to support our friends,” while also adding that he hoped it would encourage peace talks with the Taliban.

 

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