Hekmatyar warns US of long guerrilla war
MOSCOW: Former Afghan anti-Soviet resistance commander Gulbuddin Hekmatyar warned on Tuesday that fighting in Afghanistan was far from over and that the US command was now facing a protracted guerrilla war.

"The war is not over, even if the Taliban are surrendering all major cities," Hekmatyar said in an interview with the Russian daily Vremya Novostei. "The United States will be confronted with a guerrilla war... just as the Soviet Union was" in the 1979-1989 conflict that ended with a humiliating defeat for Moscow.

Hekmatyar, notorious for having caused massive destruction during fighting that raged in Kabul for three years after the Soviets' defeat, is currently exiled in Iran. He recently announced that a group of rebels he heads, whose precise size remains unclear, would very soon be fighting alongside the Taliban.

The US-backed Northern Alliance opposition has made substantial territorial gains on the Taliban regime over the last few days and entered Afghanistan's capital Kabul on Tuesday.

But Hekmatyar said that in spite of the opposition's latest successes, the war was going to last a long time. "If even the Soviet Union could not bring Afghanistan to heel, the United States does not stand a chance. The Soviets were no bad fighters, the Americans cannot fight as well," Hekmatyar added.

The ethnic Pashtun and Sunni Muslim militant further lambasted Russia's support for the US-led offensive in Afghanistan. He asked, "How could Moscow support the United States' aggression on Afghanistan? Do the Russians not understand that the United States wants to establish control over the whole of the Central Asian region, which is of strategic importance?"

Since Washington launched its military campaign in Afghanistan on October 7, Russia has expressed repeated support for the anti-terrorist operation aimed at flushing out Osama Bin Laden, blamed for the September 11 terror attacks on the United States.

( AFP )