Afghan Taliban Announce Three-Day Eid Ceasefire



KABUL (Reuters) – The Afghan Taliban on Saturday announced a three-day cease-fire on the Eid holiday later this week, its first such offer, following a ceasefire announced on Thursday by the government.

A member of the Afghan security force stands guard in front of the Marshal Fahim military academy in Kabul, Afghanistan on January 29, 2018. REUTERS / Omar Sobhani

The militants said that foreign forces would be excluded from the high fire and that the operations against them would continue. They also said that they would defend themselves against any attack.

"In three days, maybe the unity of the Taliban insurgents will be put to the test," a European diplomat told Reuters. "If the different factions do not accept the ceasefire, the attacks will continue"

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

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

The clerics also recommended a ceasefire with the Taliban, which seeks to reimpose strict Islamic law after its overthrow in 2001, and Ghani approved the recommendation, saying it would last until June 20.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani speaks during a peace and security cooperation conference in Kabul, Afghanistan, February 28, 2018. REUTERS / Omar Sobhani

It was not clear when the Taliban ceasefire would start, since Eid begins when the moon is first seen on the 29th or 30th day of Ramadan, and the moon appears at different times throughout the country.

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

In August, US President Donald Trump unveiled a more aggressive military approach to Afghanistan , including an increase in air strikes, aimed at forcing the Taliban to the negotiating table.

Afghan security forces say the impact has been significant, but the Taliban cover large swaths of the country and, with foreign troop levels of around 15,600, less than 140,000 in 2014, there seems to be little hope of a victory Absolute

The surprising announcement by the Taliban comes when Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un will meet at a summit in Singapore on Tuesday, something few people would have predicted just a few months ago when the threats between the two sides were more bellicose .

Report of Rupam Jain and Hamid Shalizi; Written by Nick Macfie

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