The Taliban said today that the fact coalition forces had to hold a small withdrawal ceremony in a secure location proves that they’re won the war after 13 years.
The Sunday ceremony in Kabul marked the transition from Operation Enduring Freedom to Operation Resolute Support.
“Today marks an end of an era and the beginning of a new one. Resolute Support will serve as the bedrock of our enduring partnership with Afghanistan,” said Resolute Support Commander U.S. Army General John F. Campbell, according to the International Security Assistance Force.
“Together, we have lifted the Afghan people out of the darkness of despair and given them hope for the future. We’re very proud of our relationship – a relationship built on trust, friendship, and shared interests,” Campbell said. “That trust and a common vision for a stable, secure, and unified Afghanistan fills me with confidence that we’ll continue to be successful. The road before us remains challenging, but we will triumph.”
A residual force of 13,500, mostly Americans, will be left in the country to help with training and other security needs.
“At the invitation of the Afghan government, and to preserve the gains we have made together, the United States–along with our allies and partners–will maintain a limited military presence in Afghanistan to train, advise and assist Afghan forces and to conduct counterterrorism operations against the remnants of al Qaeda,” President Obama said in a statement from Hawaii. “Our personnel will continue to face risks, but this reflects the enduring commitment of the United States to the Afghan people and to a united, secure and sovereign Afghanistan that is never again used as a source of attacks against our nation.”
Operation Freedom’s Sentinel is the U.S. mission that will back the NATO’s Resolute Support mission.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said it would “help secure and build upon the hard-fought gains of the last 13 years.”
“Through enduring security cooperation, we will continue assisting the Afghan government to build its capacity and self-sufficiency, as we transition to the next phase of the U.S.-Afghanistan defense relationship,” Hagel said in a statement. “We will continue to work with our Afghan partners to secure the great progress we have made since 2001 and to seize this defining moment of opportunity for Afghanistan’s future.”
The Taliban in their statement said the ISAF withdrawal ceremony “went strangely unheralded in the United States and much of the world and then news surfaced that ISAF was going to arrange its big farewell ceremony in secret due to threat of Mujahidin attacks in Kabul!!!”
“It should be emphasized that due to the blessed Jihad most of the involved nations excluding America have withdrawn all of their troops from Afghanistan, nearly all the provinces have been cleansed from the vile presence of foreign invaders accept for Mazar-e-Sharif in the North and Nangarhar in the East as well as a small presence in the country’s capital and surrounding areas where the invaders are also working tirelessly to pull out as quickly as possible,” the Taliban continued.
The group added that the “without a doubt the defeat of the infidel Western military alliance in Afghansitan at the hands of a few empty handed believing Mujahidin, the destruction of fortified bases by their own hands and their hasty withdrawal were unconceivable and is a clear sign of the divine help of Allah Almighty.”
“While the admonitory withdrawal of foreign forces is taking place, the presence of their internal stooges is being rolled back from much of the country at the same time. Mujahidin are taking over new areas daily, dismantling their bases and are tightening their sieges,” the Taliban added, calling the “haughty invasion of the international infidel coalition” a “humiliating defeat.”