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Taliban compare NATO withdrawal to Soviet, Vietnam wars

Afghan security forces patrol the site where Taliban suicide bombers attacked a joint U.S.-Afghan air base in Jalalabad, east of Kabul, Afghanistan, Sunday, Dec. 2, 2012. Taliban suicide bombers attacked early Sunday, detonating explosives at the gate and sparking a gun battle that lasted at least two hours with American helicopters firing down at militants before the attackers were defeated.

Nasrullah Khan/AP

The Taliban on Wednesday issued an end-of-year review that compared the impending withdrawal of United States-led foreign troops to the 1989 Soviet retreat from Afghanistan and the end of the Vietnam war.

The insurgents' e-mailed statement, entitled a "Quick glance at 2012", said coalition forces had "completely lost their will to fight and practically began the process of withdrawal and retreat".

"We can unmistakably state that 2012 in Afghanistan for the current occupation was exactly as 1986 was for the former occupation," the Taliban said.

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The year 1986 is widely seen as a turning point in the Soviets' ten-year presence in Afghanistan, with mujahideen attacks forcing Moscow on the defensive before the military finally left in 1989.

"When America faced utter destruction in Vietnam, they came up with the formula 'Declare victory and run' and want to utilize the formula of 'Transfer security and run' here in Afghanistan," the militants added.

"In reality, they want to flee from Afghanistan just as they turned tail and ran from Vietnam."

The NATO coalition, fighting an 11-year Taliban insurgency, reduced troop numbers by about 30,000 in 2012 and is due to end its combat mission in 2014.

The 100,000 international forces still in Afghanistan are training a national army and police to ensure stability, while the Afghan government has appointed negotiators to open peace talks with the Taliban.

Coalition leaders say that Afghans now take on about 75 per cent of military responsibilities, though the United States is in talks over leaving a small force behind after 2014.

"To sum up 2012 in one sentence it would be 'The beginning of the invaders scamper,' " the Taliban said.

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NATO and US officials this week repeated that the handover to local soldiers and police was advancing successfully.

Afghan security forces will take the lead in areas covering nearly 90 per cent of the population under the latest transfer of security due in the coming months, President Hamid Karzai said this week.

Analysts have warned the country risks plunging into a large-scale civil war after the NATO force departs.

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