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New Taliban leader tells US to end Afghan 'occupation' in first message

New Taliban leader Haibatullah Akhundzada on Saturday called on the US to end its “occupation” of Afghanistan in his first 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 speech on the eve of Eid-al-Fitr, the Muslim festival marking the end of the fasting month of Ramadan. The message is the first by Akhundzada since his predecessor Akhtar Mansour was killed during a US drone strike in neighbouring Pakistan in May.

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