The Taliban on Sunday called NATO's plan to begin withdrawing troops from the Afghan battlefield next year and cede full control to local forces by 2014 a "sign of failure" for the US government.
A U.S. soldier arrives at the site of a suicide car bomb attack in Kabul November 12, 2010.… Read more »
The hardline group said the agreement signed in Lisbon on Saturday showed that Washington had "failed to get additional military assistance of the NATO member countries" or a commitment to continue operations in the long term.
"It is a good news for Afghans and all freedom-loving people of the world and it is a sign of failure for the American government," it said in an emailed statement.
"In the past nine years, the invaders could not establish any system of governance in Kabul and they will never be able to do so in future."
The statement -- entitled "Response of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan as regards Lisbon Meeting" -- comes after the Taliban on Saturday scoffed at the alliance's plan to bring the war in Afghanistan to an end within four years.
The group claimed that the agreement showed that foreign forces were "doomed towards the same fate as those that tread this path before them", despite a massive troop surge earlier this year to quell fierce fighting in the south.
The plan will see the 48 countries of the 150,000-strong NATO-led force in Afghanistan begin transferring parts of the battlefield to local police and military and move Western troops into a supporting role by the end of 2014.
Washington, however, warned that "some hard fighting remains ahead" and did not rule out combat operations continuing beyond 2014.
NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen pledged that the allies would stand by Kabul after their combat mission ends.
The Taliban on Sunday repeated its call for the immediate withdrawal of foreign forces, calling the 2014 cut-off date an "irrational decision", as it prolonged a "meaningless, imposed and (unwinnable) war".
"They should not postpone withdrawal of their forces even be it for one day," the statement added.
NATO commanders and officials have been upbeat about progress in Afghanistan, particularly in the volatile south, which is the Taliban's spiritual home.
US President Barack Obama said on Saturday that the NATO-led allies "are achieving our objective of breaking Taliban momentum" after committing extra resources to the war.
But violence remains a daily reality for both troops and ordinary Afghans, with military and civilian casualties at an all-time high in the nine-year war.
In a sign of the difficulties of securing the war-torn country, four civilians were killed in two separate suicide bomb attacks in eastern Laghman province on Saturday.
NATO also admitted that its troops accidentally killed three civilians when they came under fire during operations in Kunar province, also in eastern Afghanistan, on Friday.
A survey published late Friday gave a gloomy prediction that most people in southern Afghanistan thought the Taliban would return after NATO troops leave.
The rebel group indicated on Sunday it was eyeing a return to power, claiming in its statement that it had put together a "comprehensive policy for the future Afghanistan".