June 21, 2018

Afghan Leader Declares Unilateral Cease-Fire in Fight Against Taliban

08 June 2018, 10:08 | Taylor George

ImageSecurity forces escorting Taliban fighters in Jalalabad Afghanistan

ImageSecurity forces escorting Taliban fighters in Jalalabad Afghanistan

Afghanistan's President Ashraf Ghani announced a rare and temporary ceasefire with the Taliban after the country's Islamic Council this week issued an edict that forbade suicide bombing and had urged the group to join peace efforts.

"This ceasefire is an opportunity for Taliban to introspect (sic) that their violent campaign is not winning them hearts and minds", Ghani said in a message on social network Twitter after a televised address.

"Afghan national defense and security forces will only stop offensive maneuvers against armed Afghan Taliban and will continue to target Daesh and other foreign-backed terrorist organizations and their affiliates", he said in reference to Islamic State fighters and other insurgents.

The US Air Forces have destroyed at least 40 Humvee armored personnel carrier captured by the Taliban insurgents since 2015, the coalition officials have said.

"We will adhere to the wishes of Afghanistan for the country to enjoy a peaceful end to the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, and support the search for an end to the conflict", General John Nicholson said in a statement.

Last month, the Pentagon said that senior Taliban officials have been secretly negotiating with Afghan officials on a possible ceasefire.

He has urged ceasefires with the Taliban before, but this was the first unconditional offer since his election in 2014.

"The United States is ready to participate in the discussion, but we can not serve as a substitute for the Afghan government and the Afghan people".

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In February, he officially recognized the Taliban as a political actor and proposed a constitutional review as part of a process that could also include cease-fires and other confidence-building measures.

"The Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan announces cease-fire from the 27th of Ramadan (June 12) until the fifth day of Eid-ul-Fitr (June 19) following the historic ruling [Fatwa] of the Afghan Ulema (clerics)..."

The United States and Russian Federation also praised the decision.

The statistics highlight a recurring problem: Taliban fighters have frequently attacked Afghan government outposts throughout the country, capturing US -supplied equipment and then disappearing into the countryside.

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".

At NATO headquarters in Brussels, Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg welcomed the move and called on the Taliban to lay down their arms.

Nicholson, who has commanded the US -led military coalition in Afghanistan since March 2016, spoke with measured optimism about prospects for compelling the Taliban to enter peace negotiations with the Afghan government.

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