Militant offers to 'help' U.S., coalition

Aug. 17, 2009 at 12:49 PM
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KABUL, Afghanistan, Aug. 17 (UPI) -- An Afghan militant group says it is willing to aid coalition forces in Afghanistan if they prepare to leave the country, the group's leader told CNN.

"We are ready to help with the United States and ... other coalition forces if foreign troops announce the time frame for pulling out their troops from Afghanistan," Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, a former Afghan prime minister and leader of the pro-Taliban Hizb-e-Islami militant group, said in a statement delivered Monday to CNN.

"I am sure Afghans will fight U.S. forces and will continue jihad against them like they fought against Russia before if they don't leave the country," Hekmatyar said.

Russia, then part of the former Soviet Union, invaded Afghanistan in late 1979 and fought there until 1989.

Hekmatyar didn't say what he meant by "help," but CNN said the term usually means the group offering help would stop attacks against coalition forces, end recruitment and cease intimidation of local residents.

Hekmatyar is considered a maverick militant and regarded by the Pentagon as one of the key players in Afghanistan, CNN said.

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