Taliban announce first cease fire in 17-year Afghan war

Taliban announce first cease fire in 17-year Afghan war

The Afghan Taliban announced a three-day cease-fire over the Eid al-Fitr holiday at the end of the holy month of Ramadan, a first for the group, following an earlier cease-fire announcement by the government.

The halt in hostilities at the end of this week comes two days after the Afghan president, Ashraf Ghani, announced his government's unilateral eight-day ceasefire.

The armed group said on Saturday that the ceasefire would exclude foreign forces, and that it would defend itself against any attack.

On Friday, senior USA officials said they will intensify combat against Daesh affiliate in the country during the Kabul government's temporary halt to attacks on the Taliban.

The United States intends to step up military operations against the militant Islamic State group in eastern Afghanistan during a temporary ceasefire between the Afghan government and the Taliban, senior USA officials said on Friday.The Islamic State group has developed a stronghold in Nangarhar, on the porous eastern border with Pakistan and is among the countrys most unsafe militants since it appeared around 2015.

The ceasefire call followed the Afghan government's own declaration of a 10-day truce over Eid.

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.

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All the deaths were claimed by the Taliban. Ghani's surprise announcement underscored his desire to establish a peace process that could put an end to a conflict that even his backers say cannot be won militarily. Family visits should also be arranged for remaining prisoners, it said. Earlier, they had issued an "Op-ed" on their website criticising the fatwa, and calling it an effort "to legitimise the illegal occupation [of the U.S.]" "The fatwa declared by the Peace Council under the name of the Ulema is full of ignorance and distortion", it read, adding that jihad is also obligatory against "their domestic supporters and puppets", referring to the Afghan government and the U.S. forces in Afghanistan.

"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.

Laurel Miller, who served as a senior US official for Afghanistan and Pakistan under both Obama and Trump, said that while any action to reduce violence was positive, the differing terms and timelines for the two parties' cease-fires made the current circumstance a fragile one.

"In three days, maybe the unity of Taliban insurgents will be put to test", a European diplomat told Reuters.

Farhad said at least 13 others were wounded in the attack. A dozen other were wounded in the overnight Taliban attack, but the exact figures are not yet clear, Safiullah Amiri, another provincial member, said.

The Taliban's cease-fire is expected to run from June 12 to June 14, while the government's will last until around June 20.

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