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29 Dec, 2014 14:25

Taliban claims victory in Afghan War as NATO ends combat mission

Taliban claims victory in Afghan War as NATO ends combat mission

As the NATO combat mission in Afghanistan comes to an end and allied troops depart, the Taliban has proclaimed itself the victor in the protracted war.

NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) combat mission will cease to exist on January 1. However thousands of NATO troops will stay in war-torn Afghanistan on a “training and support” mission.

READ MORE: ‘More stable & prosperous than ever’? NATO officially ends 13-yr mission to Afghanistan

For the Taliban, NATO’s pullout from Afghanistan is a clear demonstration of the alliance’s weakness.

“We consider this step a clear indication of their defeat and disappointment,” the terror group said in a statement, arraigning the US-led mission of “barbarism and cruelty” that left “a pool of blood” behind.

The comment from the Taliban comes a day after NATO marked the end of its combat mission with a low-key ceremony in Kabul, arranged in secret due to the threat of a militant attack.

READ MORE: Afghan civilian casualties, injuries to reach 10,000 in 2014 – UN

“America, its invading allies... along with all international arrogant organizations have been handed a clear-cut defeat in this lopsided war,” claimed the Taliban, which ruled Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001.

U.S. General John Campbell (C), commander of NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), folds the flag of the ISAF during the change of mission ceremony in Kabul, December 28, 2014. (Reuters/Omar Sobhani)

The Taliban headed the insurgency against NATO and Afghan forces through all 13 years of the subsequent occupation.

In anticipation of the NATO withdrawal from Afghanistan, the Taliban attacks against military infrastructure in the country only intensified.

READ MORE: Afghan Taliban attacks rise, UK ex-army chief plays down resurgence fears

Washington has previously assured Kabul that the US military equipment and weapons used by its combat mission will stay in Afghanistan to be employed by the nation’s army and law enforcement.

No fewer than 12,500 NATO troops - among them 10,000 US personnel - will remain in Afghanistan through 2016, as part of a ‘Resolute Support Mission’ assistance program.

READ MORE: German troops to stay in Afghanistan in NATO-led mission

The Taliban promised to continue its fight “for the establishment of a pure Islamic system by expelling the remaining invading forces unconditionally.”

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has said recently that his administration is open to peace talks with the Taliban, but the group turned down the proposal, saying it would “continue its jihad and struggle so long as a single foreigner remains in Afghanistan in a military uniform.”