After Deadly Kabul Siege, NATO Takes on Taliban... on Twitter?

PHOTO: Hours after NATO forces repelled a Taliban attack on the U.S. embassy in Kabul, NATO and the Taliban got into it again, on Twitter.
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After fending off small arms and rocket fire from Afghan insurgents for nearly 20 hours around the U.S. embassy in Kabul Tuesday, NATO forces decided they weren't done with Afghan militants and took others on again just hours later -- on Twitter.

"Re: Taliban [spokesperson] on #Kabul attack: the outcome is inevitable. Question is how much longer will terrorist[s] put innocent Afghans in harm's way?" said the Twitter feed @ISAFmedia, a usually subdued stream of NATO announcements.

At least 11 civilians, including three children, were killed in the crossfire, the Afghanistan International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said. All seven militants -- who U.S. officials suspect were with the Taliban-affiliated Haqqani network -- were killed. Six members of NATO's ISAF were injured and Kabul's police chief told ABC News five Afghan policemen were also killed.

READ: Kabul Embassy Siege: Blood and Bullet Casing Where Seven Attackers Died

The supposed spokesman for the Taliban, a Twitter user who goes by the handle @ABalkhi fired back quickly at the ISAF tweet, saying ISAF was the one that has been putting Afghan civilians in harm's way for the past 10 years.

"And you still have the nerve to talk about 'harm's way'?" ABalkhi said in English in shorthand Twitter-speak, omitting several vowels and punctuation.

ISAFmedia responded that UNAMA, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, estimates 80 percent of civilian casualties in Afghanistan are caused by "insurgent (your) activities".

The Taliban spokesman called the numbers into question in his next tweet, sarcastically asking, "Unama is an entity of whom? [M]ine or yours?"

A few hours later, ISAFmedia directly tweeted a separate self-described spokesperson for the Taliban, @alemarahweb, by linking to a video of the commander of the NATO-led forces Gen. John Allen checking on his soldiers.

"Does your boss do this?" the tweet said.

A spokesman for the ISAF told ABC News that like the physical battlefield, international forces utilize the internet and social networking to take on enemies wherever they can.

"Just like the Taliban on the battlefield currently, they have not been able to stand toe to toe with us militarily, which is why they have gone to tactics such as hiding behind burqas and forcing children to be suicide bombers," Lt. Col. Jimmie Cummings said. "On Twitter they are using a similar tactic. They are hiding behind twitter by posting false information or propaganda without backing it up with facts.

"We will not let this unethical behavior go unchallenged," he said.

In addition to the lively Twitter spat, U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan Ryan Crocker used almost taunting rhetoric after the attack, describing it to reporters as all "minor league stuff" despite more than half-dozen rockets being fired and the heavy casualties.

"This really is not a very big deal, a hard day for the Embassy and my staff, who behaved with enormous courage and dedication, but look, you know a half a dozen RPG rounds from 800 meters away... that's harassment," Crocker said. "If that's the best they can do, I think it's actually a statement of their weakness and more importantly since Kabul is in the hands of Afghan security it's a real credit to the Afghan National Security Forces."

The attack was the longest single attack Kabul has ever witnessed since U.S. operations began.

ABC News' Nick Schifrin and Aleem Agha contributed to this report.

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