Published: Sun, June 10, 2018
Global Media | By Abel Hampton

Afghanistan announces Eid ceasefire with Taliban until June 20

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on Thursday announced for the first time an unconditional ceasefire with the Taliban, coinciding with the end of the Muslim fasting month.

The clerics also recommended a ceasefire with the Taliban, who are fighting to reimpose strict Islamic law after their ouster in 2001, and Ghani endorsed the recommendation, saying it would last until June 20.

'[At] the same time, the Afghan government directs all the security and defence forces of the stop all the attacks on the Taliban, but the operation will continue against Daesh (Islamic State), Al-Qaeda and other worldwide terrorist networks'.

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

It said the Secretary-General urges the Taliban to reciprocate the temporary ceasefire.

The announcement follows an unprecedented religious ruling, or fatwa, from a gathering of Afghan clerics this week declaring the insurgency illegitimate and proclaiming that suicide bombings, a frequent tactic of the Taliban, the Islamic State and other militants, are forbidden by Islam.

The ceasefire could free resources for operations against Islamic State but some would remain to monitor the Taliban and for force protection, he told journalists on the sidelines of a meeting of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation defense ministers in Brussels.

"If the Taliban take full advantage of the ceasefire in the best interests of the Afghan people, then numerous surveillance assets we (have) overhead could be reoriented to ISIS-K, to Al Qaeda and other foreign terrorists that have no business being in Afghanistan in the first place", he told reporters.

Ghani said his government supported the clerics' call.

Despite years of military pressure and, more recently, an expanded air campaign by the United States, the Taliban remains strong across Afghanistan and continues to inflict significant losses on the Afghan military.

Ever since the U.S. 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 abrupt nature of Mr. Ghani's call was sure to rattle military units, which have been pinned down by the Taliban and which, over 17 years of consistent fighting, have not given much thought to how they might carry out a cease-fire. The local branch of the Islamic State, which is not included in the cease-fire announcement, claimed responsibility for that attack.

The Taliban in response to Trump's strategy has intensified attacks against Afghan security forces, killing around 500 of them in just the month of May, according to Afghan officials and local media reports.

"Even the Taliban political commission say that there could be no military solution, there has to be a political solution".

He said the announcement is a positive step towards peace in Afghanistan.

The Eid al-Fitr holiday ending Ramadan falls at the end of next week.

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