Taliban 'forced British pullout': militants

7th July 2010, Comments 0 comments

The Taliban Wednesday claimed credit for British troops' planned pullout from a southern Afghanistan district and warned that the US forces set to take over the troubled region will face "the same fate."

British troops will hand over control of violence-wracked Sangin, a Taliban-infested district in Helmand province, to US forces by the end of the year, British Defence Secretary Liam Fox announced on Wednesday.

The Taliban, who have been waging an insurgency against foreign forces in Afghanistan, said the British force was pulling out because of pressure from the militants' attacks.

"This is the start of the British forces' defeat in Afghanistan," Yousuf Ahmadi, a Taliban spokesman said, reading what he said was a statement by Mullah Omar, the militant group's fugitive leader.

"We defeated them in Sangin. They'll be defeated in the rest of the country soon," Ahmadi said on the phone, without disclosing his location.

He said the American troops set to take over from the British "will face the same fate. We'll defeat the Americans as well there (Sangin)," he added.

British forces have suffered their heaviest losses in Sangin, with almost 100 deaths in the market town and surrounding areas -- almost a third of their total casualties since their military involvement in Afghanistan began in 2001.

© 2010 AFP

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