New Taliban leader Haibatullah Akhundzada called on the U.S. Saturday, July 2 to end its “occupation” of Afghanistan in his first message since being appointed the militant group’s chief, AFP reports.
The message was released to mark the upcoming Muslim festival of Eid and comes two days after Taliban-claimed suicide blasts, targeting a convoy of buses transporting Afghan police cadets in Kabul, killed over 30 people and wounded more than 70.
“Admit the realities instead of useless use of force and muscle… and put an end to the occupation,” Akhundzada said in a speech on the eve of Eid-al-Fitr, the Muslim festival marking the end of the fasting month of Ramadan.
“Our message to the American invaders and her allies is this: the Afghan Muslim people neither fear… your force nor your stratagem. They consider martyrdom in confrontation with you as a cherished goal of their life,” Akhundzada added, according to AFP.
He also called on neighboring countries to join the fight against the U.S., saying the presence of Americans would “harm our mutual interest” and “destabilize the whole region.”
“You are expected to join your voice with that of the Afghans to end the occupation or at least do not take steps which contribute to prolongation of presence of the Americans,” he said.
The message is the first by Akhundzada since his predecessor Akhtar Mansour was killed during a U.S. drone strike in neighboring Pakistan in May.
Mansour was formally appointed head of the Taliban in July last year following the revelation that Mullah Omar — the group’s supreme leader — had been dead for two years in Pakistan.
Afghan officials have frequently accused Pakistan of harboring and nurturing Taliban insurgents, who are waging an over-a-decade-long war against local and foreign troops in the country.