Published: Sun, June 10, 2018
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

Taliban leaders declare Eid ceasefire with Afghan forces

Taliban leaders declare Eid ceasefire with Afghan forces

Ghani first spoke about the possibility of a ceasefire with the militant Islamist group in February, when he announced that the Afghan government was willing to recognize the Taliban as a legitimate political party as part of a potential agreement.

Ghani's decision came after a meeting of Islamic clerics declared a fatwa, or ruling, against suicide bombings, one of which, claimed by Islamic State, killed 14 people at the entrance to the clerics' peace tent in Kabul.

The Taliban had denounced the gathering, insisting its fight against what it considers are foreign invaders was justified.

This will be a first such project in the war-torn country where China, while trying to expand its influence, has tacitly backed Pakistan, which has been accused by Afghanistan and the United States of backing the Taliban and its most violent attacks in the country destabilising any attempts to restore peace. "We should reach for sustainable peace throughout the country".

The ceasefire will last from the 27th of Ramadan until the fifth day of Eid-al-Fitr, President Ghani had tweeted last week, indicating it could run from June 12-19.

Ghani has urged ceasefires with the Taliban before, but this was the first unconditional offer since he was elected in 2014. At the time he also called for a ceasefire.

The UN secretary-general's special representative for Afghanistan, Tadamichi Yamamoto, said 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 worldwide security efforts in Afghanistan since 2003. They also said they would defend themselves against any attack.

"The government announced a truce on the basis of Ulema's verdict to show to the world and Afghans that it had taken the initiative for peace months back and now is even willing to announce a truce and is pacifist". It wound down its combat mission in 2014 but its Resolute Support mission comprises nearly 16,000 troops from around 40 countries.

The Trump administration has sent additional troops to try to change the course of America's longest war.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said this could, for example, allow the 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 USA invaded.

He said the Afghan security forces immediately responded to the attack by deploying forces and at least eight militants were killed in the retaliatory fire.

At least 50 Afghan soldiers and police were killed in clashes across the country - 17 soldiers died in the Zawal district of western Herat province, nine border police were killed in the Bala Murghab district of north-western Badghis province, and at least 20 Afghan police were killed in the Qala e Zal district of northern Kunduz province on Friday.

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