The U.S. occupation of Afghanistan is "the main obstacle" to peace, the Taliban's leader said Friday.
In his comments to mark the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, Mullah Haibatullah Akhundzada also denounced the plan to increase number of U.S. troops in the country, and accused the U.S. and its allies of "destabilizing the whole region."
The Pentagon is reportedly weighing sending an additional 4,000 troops to Afghanistan. Akhundzada appeared to reference that development, saying, "The more they insist on maintaining the presence of their forces here or want a surge of their forces, the more regional sensitivity against them will intensify."
"Americans should understand that continuation of war in Afghanistan, upsurge of bombardment ... will never usher in success for them. The Afghans are not a people to kowtow to someone," he said.
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Echoing previous comments made by the Taliban, he said, "The occupation is the main obstacle in the way of peace." He added that "constructive and good relations with you and the world" would follow a withdrawal of forces.
U.S. based activists have also criticized the proposal to send more troops as "escalating this endless war."
Win Without War director Stephen Miles, for one, said last week: "Diplomacy and negotiation is the only way to finally end the conflict in Afghanistan and create the conditions for a lasting peace."