Afghan Taliban announce cease-fire for Eid holiday

Afghan Taliban announce cease-fire for Eid holiday

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani announced an unconditional ceasefire with the Taliban on Thursday, until June 20, coinciding with the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, but excluding other militant groups, such as Islamic State.

President Ashraf Ghani on Thursday declared an apparently unilateral week-long ceasefire with the Taliban.

"The Taliban have won our hearts, if they strike a peace deal with the Afghan government, the Afghans will take them on their shoulders with love", Shah Jahan Siyal, a resident of Nangarhar provincial capital Jalalabad, wrote on Facebook.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said this could, for example, allow the U.S.to partially shift the focus of aerial surveillance from the Taliban to IS fighters as well as al-Qaida extremists, who remain a threat 17 years after the US invaded.

His offer - the first of its kind since he assumed power in late 2014 - came following recent calls from Islamic scholars in Kabul for an immediate cease-fire between government forces and the Taliban.

The move came days after a gathering of Afghanistan's top clerics in Kabul called for a ceasefire and issued a fatwa against suicide bombings and attacks. "We should reach for sustainable peace throughout the country".

However, the Taliban said the ceasefire did not include cessation of hostilities against foreign troops, Tolo News reported.

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Ghani in February offered recognition of the Taliban as a legitimate political group in a proposed political process that he said could lead to talks to end more than 16 years of war.

In his video message, Ghani said all Afghan security forces would be instructed to stop offensive operations "only on Afghan insurgents", with ISIS, al Qaeda and other global terrorist networks excluded from the ceasefire.

A member of security personnel stands guard in Kabul, Afghanistan. The only time the Afghan government came close to initiating substantive direct talks with the Taliban, in the summer of 2015, the process was derailed by news that the insurgent envoys they were meeting had, in fact, come in the name of a Taliban supreme leader who had died years before, the news of which had been kept secret.

Laurel Miller, who served as a senior USA official for Afghanistan and Pakistan under both Obama and Trump, said that while any action to reduce violence was positive, the differing terms and timelines for the two parties' cease-fires made the current circumstance a fragile one.

A Defense Ministry spokesman said Taliban also were killed in fighting in 10 provinces.

Temori said seven others were wounded in Qala-e Zal district. "We wanted them to be confident that we also won't do any operations".

However, the district administrative chief Amanuddin Qureshi confirmed the incident said doznes of Taliban insurgents launched a coordinated attack on security posts in Baghcha and Kalokh areas, leaving at least 25 people dead.

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