In first, Afghan Taliban announce cease-fire for Eid holiday

Pauline Gross
June 10, 2018

Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi has welcomed the Afghan government's decision to announce a ceasefire with the Taliban on the occasion of Eid al-Fitr Muslim holidays in the war-stricken country.

"We welcome the three days ceasefire announced by the Taliban starting on the first day of Eid".

Their announcement came days after the Afghan government declared a unilateral eight-day ceasefire, and for the first time it promised Afghan civilians, who have borne the brunt of the 17-year conflict, a temporary reduction in violence, which has only been getting worse in recent years.

Nick Kay, the United Kingdom ambassador to Afghanistan, described the ceasefire announcement as an important statement in pursuit of the peace.

The Taliban said "foreign occupiers are the exception" to the order sent to its fighters around the country.

Ghani made his surprise offer in a televised speech on Thursday, saying it would give the Taliban a chance to reconsider their "violent campaign" during the last days of Ramadan.

"Our operations will continue against them, we will attack them wherever we see them", it said.

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The government cease-fire will begin on June 12 and last through Eid al-Fitr holiday, June 19, not including al Qaida or ISIS.

The UN Secretary-General´s Special Representative for Afghanistan, Tadamichi Yamamoto, said in a statement he hoped the ceasefires would "serve as a stepping stone" towards peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban.

North Atlantic Treaty Organisation has led global security efforts in Afghanistan since 2003.

Foreign combat forces withdrew from Afghanistan in 2014.

"You can't end 40 years of war in a few days, but this is definitely the best chance for a peace process since at least since the USA surge" of troops under President Barack Obama in 2010-2011, said Vikram Singh, a former Pentagon and State Department official who is now a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress in Washington. The militants also say they will defend themselves, if attacked.

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 Daesh fighters as well as al-Qaida extremists, who remain a threat 17 years after the US invaded. 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.

The Taliban attacked security outposts in the Zawul district of western Herat province on Friday night, killing 17 troops and wounding several, Jelani Farhad, spokesman for the provincial governor, said.

Other reports by GizPress

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