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Afghan Government Announces Temporary Ceasefire with Taliban

08 June, 2018, 11:34 | Author: Lucille Rivera
  • Humvees of the combined Iraqi forces and Popular Mobilization units advance through the town of Tal Afar west of Mosul

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has announced a week-long ceasefire with the Taliban to coincide with the holiday marking the end of Ramadan.

Ghani said that Afghanistan's security forces will "stop offensives" against Afghan Taliban militants but will continue to target the extremist group Islamic State (IS), Al-Qaeda, and "other global terrorist groups" and their affiliates.

A statement sent from Ghani's office on Thursday said the cease-fire would begin on 27 Ramadan, or June 12 on the Western calendar, and last through the Eid al-Fitr holiday, until around June 19.

He said the ceasefire is a chance for the militant group to realize that their violent campaign is not winning hearts and minds of Afghans.

Zabiullah Mujahid, a spokesman for the Taliban said: "The Taliban senior leaders are in a meeting to decide upon Ghani's offer of ceasefire, and we will update shortly".

Ghani's statement referred to a gathering of Afghanistan's top clerics on Monday in which they issued a decree against suicide attacks and called for peace talks.

But, an hour after the fatwa was issued, a suicide bomber detonated outside the gathering, killing seven people and wounding 20 in an attack claimed by the Islamic State group.

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The top US commander in Afghanistan, Gen. John Nicholson, said last month that some elements of the Taliban are showing interest in peace talks.

Ghani proposed a ceasefire and a release of prisoners among a range of options including new elections involving the armed group, and a constitutional review in a pact with the Taliban to end a conflict that a year ago alone killed or wounded more than 10,000 Afghan civilians. The armed group has set the withdrawal of foreign forces as a pre-condition for peace talks.

The top US military commander in Afghanistan said that foreign forces will also honor the cease-fire.

This was President Ghani's first unconditional offer of a ceasefire since his election in 2014.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement that the USA welcomed the cease-fire and that it indicates the Afghan government's commitment to try to end the conflict.

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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