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Taliban ‘open letter’ to Trump calls on US to leave Afghanistan

The Taliban militant group has released an “open letter” to US President Donald Trump, reiterating their demand for the withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan after 16 years of war.

In a long and rambling note that was sent to journalists by Zabihullah Mujahid, the Taliban spokesman, the insurgents said a withdrawal would “truly deliver American troops from harm’s way” and bring about “an end to an inherited war.”

The 1,600-word note said Trump should not hand control of the US Afghan policy to the military but rather announce the withdrawal of US troops.

The Taliban spokesman said the current US president has recognized the errors of his predecessors by seeking a review of the US strategy for Afghanistan.

The United States now has about 8,400 troops in Afghanistan. The Pentagon seeks to send almost 4,000 more to expand training of Afghan military forces and bolster US counterterrorism operations. Trump has so far resisted the Pentagon’s recommendations.

The Taliban letter, which sought to flatter Trump for initiating the Afghan policy review, also warned against handing it to “warmongering generals.”

“You must also not hand over the Afghan issue to warmongering generals, but must make a decision where history shall remember you as an advocate of peace,” Taliban’s letter said, addressing Trump.

“We have noticed that you have understood the errors of your predecessors and have resolved to thoroughly rethinking your new strategy in Afghanistan,” it added.

The letter also offered a long list of complaints against Afghanistan’s US-orchestrated unity government.

It also referred to a newly formed coalition of disgruntled warlords formed at a meeting last month in Turkey as an opposition bloc to Afghan President Ashraf Ghani.

Critics have described President Ghani as divisive and accused him of stoking ethnic rivalries.

The opposition bloc includes Uzbek warlord and Afghanistan’s first vice president, Rashid Dostum, and Atta Mohammed Noor, a Tajik warlord and governor of the northern province of Balkh.

Dostum has been criticized by the US for human rights abuses and is currently living in Turkey.

Mohammed Mohaqiq, an ethnic Hazara lawmaker, is also in the bloc.

US Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction said in its most recent report that the Taliban militants hold sway in nearly 50 percent of the country.

The war in Afghanistan is the longest in US history with a cost of about $1 trillion. More than 2,400 Americans have died and another 20,000 have been wounded in the country since the invasion in 2001.

US President Donald Trump has been skeptical about the campaign in Afghanistan. US officials have said that Trump’s doubts about the war have led to a delay in completing a new strategy in the war-torn country.

Trump has said in a recent meeting with his national security team that the United States is “losing” in Afghanistan.

The Daesh Takfiri terrorist group, which is mainly concentrated in Iraq and Syria, has been sustaining heavy losses in battles with national armies and allied forces in those countries in the past months.

The Takfiri group emerged in Afghanistan in early 2015 and has claimed responsibility for some deadly attacks in the country.

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