Taliban says Canada is retreating

A round of goodbye messages are following the last Canadian troops out the door in Afghanistan and some of them are rather nasty.

The Taliban's information arm issued a statement Thursday to followers in Kandahar congratulating its fighters in the rural districts of Panjwaii, Zharey, Dand, Maiwand and Shah Wali Kot claiming that Canada has been defeated and has now fled the country.

"Your sacrifices have brought us freedom. The beacons of your blood have lit the way to independence. Celebrate the victory and freedom from the Canadians," said the statement, written in Pashtu, but translated for The Canadian Press.

It said that the Canadians followed Holland, Denmark, Australian, Poland, and Spain in "retreat and failure." Those nations have also begun withdrawing their forces from the International Security Assistance Force mission run by NATO.

The last of Canada's training contingent of 100 soldiers formally ended the country's 12 year military involvement on Wednesday and the release from insurgents was timed to coincide with that.

The statement named dead Taliban commanders, many of them killed by Canadians, and implored them to raise their heads from the grave to listen to the news.

The propaganda, although blatantly obvious and expected, is likely to have an impact in the isolated rural district villages where Canadian troops helped build schools, roads and provide security.

Aside from the attempt to stoke the Pashtun warrior mythology of expelling "foreigners," the message also reinforces the long held belief among illiterate rural residents that outsiders are only around temporarily and that the Taliban are the only enduring presence.

"That Canada which came to Kandahar with dreams of colonization, these dreams have been shattered with our powerful explosions and iron-fist attacks. The Canadians who crossed the Atlantic are now retreating back to hide in their safe-havens," said the statement.

"Today was the last day of this snake in this land and it has officially ended its occupation."

However, a district elder and businessman in Panjwaii, Towfik Rafiqi, says the view of ordinary people in his area is that the Canadians were" tough and smart fighters," who scared the Taliban and often forced them to hide.

People do recognize the Canadians came to help, he said.


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