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New Afghan Taliban Leader Calls For End Of Foreign 'Occupation'

Mullah Haibatullah Akhundzada
Mullah Haibatullah Akhundzada

New Taliban leader Haibatullah Akhundzada has called on the United States to end its "occupation" of Afghanistan, in his first public message since being appointed the militant group's chief in May.

"Admit the realities instead of useless use of force and muscle...and put an end to the occupation," Akhundzada said in a statement on the eve of Eid al-Fitr, the Muslim festival marking the end of the fasting month of Ramadan.

Akhundzada, who was named leader of the movement after the death of his predecessor, Mullah Akhtar Mansur in a U.S. drone strike in May, said a political agreement was possible if Kabul renounced its foreign allies.

"Your support and siding with invaders is like the work of those abhorrent faces who in our past history supported the British and the Soviets," he said, in reference to the wars Afghanistan fought against the British in the 19th and 20th centuries and the Soviet occupation of the 1980s.

NATO leaders will meet at a summit in Warsaw on July 8-9 where they are expected to approve maintaining support for the Kabul government up to 2020.

Based on reporting by Reuters and AFP