Taliban fighters (file photo)
Taliban fighters (file photo)

The Afghan Taliban has dismissed NATO's plan to withdraw combat troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2014, calling it a sign of failure.

In a statement issued Sunday, the Taliban calls the 2014 cutoff date "irrational," adding that it will prolong a "meaningless and unwinnable war."

NATO leaders agreed on the plan during their summit in Portugal, which ended Saturday.  But NATO and U.S. officials say the actual withdrawal of troops will depend on the security situation on the ground.

Violence across Afghanistan remains a daily occurrence, with military and civilian casualties at their worst since the Taliban was overthrown by U.S.-backed Afghan forces in late 2001.

On Sunday, three civilians were killed and four others wounded when an improvised explosive device detonated in Kandahar province.

In fighting across the country, NATO said international and Afghan forces killed more than 20 insurgents during a series of attacks on Saturday.

It said separate air strikes in southern Helmand province have killed 11 insurgents, including a local Taliban leader.  Five insurgents were reported killed during clashes with international and Afghan security forces.

In western Farah province, Afghan and coalition forces killed two insurgents.  In Logar, a coalition air strike killed one insurgent and wounded two others.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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