Wednesday, 12 December, 2018

Afghanistan announces week-long 'holiday' ceasefire with Taliban

Alexander Shcherbak via Getty Images Alexander Shcherbak via Getty Images
Kenny Thornton | 08 June, 2018, 11:32

"The United States and our worldwide partners look to the Taliban to honour the ceasefire and demonstrate their respect for the people of Afghanistan who have long called for a reprieve to the Taliban's campaign of violence", he said.

The president noted that the operation against Daesh and other terror groups will continue.

'We are checking with our officials regarding the ceasefire announcement, ' Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told AFP.

Ever since the USA gave more responsibility to troops of the Afghan government in combat operations outside Kabul, these attacks have regularly highlighted the failure of the Afghan forces to work independently.

The announcement also comes on the back of calls by more than 2,000 religious scholars who had gathered this week in the capital, Kabul, to denounce the ongoing conflict and urge all warring sides to embrace peace added the United Nations mission.

The religious gathering was attacked by a suicide bomber in which at least seven people were killed.

The Taliban had denounced the gathering, insisting that its jihad, or holy war, against foreign invaders was justified.

Former Afghan army general Atiqullah Amarkhel said the ceasefire would give the Taliban a chance to regroup.

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Ghani said his government supported the clerics' call. At the time he also called for a ceasefire.

Gen. Akhtar Mohammed Ibrahimi, the deputy interior minister, said Mr. Ghani's cease-fire plan was coordinated with the American military also, which is responsible for a large number of airstrikes against the Taliban.

The Taliban has stepped up its attacks against Afghan security forces as well as government officials across the country since the announcement of its spring offensive in April.

'A lot of the diplomatic activity and dialogue is occurring off the stage, and it's occurring at multiple levels, ' General John Nicholson said in a teleconference with reporters at the Pentagon.

A ceasefire would bring welcome relief to civilians in the war-torn country, almost 17 years after the Taliban regime was toppled.

Fearful residents have limited their movements and Eid celebrations in the capital are set to be muted, unlike in other parts of the Muslim world.

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

In a separate statement, the UN Secretary-General's Special Representative for Afghanistan and head of United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) Tadamichi Yamamoto commended the Afghan authorities for the preparedness they expressed "to initiate, in good faith, any steps to toward a formal peace process".

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