Taliban in Afghanistan announce three-day Eid ceasefire with government

Taliban in Afghanistan announce three-day Eid ceasefire with government
The three-day ceasefire is likely to rise hopes of a longer-term reduction of violence in Afghanistan. Source: Getty Images
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Daily US Times: The Taliban announced a ceasefire with the Afghan government will take effect on Sunday, when the Muslim festival of Eid al-Fitr begins.

The ceasefire comes when a rise in attacks by the hardline Islamist group against government troops in recent weeks.

President Ashraf Ghani welsomed the announcement and said his soldiers will respect it. Shortly after the announcement, Mr Ghani tweeted: “I welcome the ceasefire announcement. I have instructed [the military] to comply with the three-day truce and to defend only if attacked.”

The three-day ceasefire is likely to rise hopes of a longer-term reduction of violence in Afghanistan, though a similar kind of ceasefire was announced for same festival in 2018 and was not extended.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said: “Do not carry out any offensive operations against the enemy anywhere. If any action is taken against you by the enemy, defend yourself.”

He also said that the ceasefire had been solely declared for Eid ul-Fitr, the festival of the end of the holy month of Ramadan.

What’s the bigger picture?

International and Afghan observers had hoped for a reduction in violence between the two sides following the signing of a troop withdrawal agreement between the Taliban and the US in February.

But further developments have stalled over a prisoner swap, and growing attacks on government forces have escalated in recent weeks.

Earlier this month, an attack on a maternity ward in the capital Kabul prompted widespread condemnation. While the Taliban denied involvement, it prompted President Ghani to order the resumption of offensive operations against them as well as other groups.

Mr Ghani accused the Talibans of ignoring repeated calls for a reduction in violence.

Last month, Taliban rejected a government call for a ceasefire across the country for Ramadan. They said it was “not rational” and ramped up attacks on Afghan forces.

President Ashraf Ghani and his rival Abdullah Abdullah signed a power-sharing deal earlier this month, ending months of political uncertainty.

What’s in the US-Taliban agreement?

Under the agreement, the US will reduce its forces in Afghanistan to 8,600 in the first 135 days. Allies are also drawing down their forces proportionately.

The deal is a political win for Mr Trump as he can now show that he has brought troops home and started process to end the long lasting Afghan war ahead of the US presidential election in November.

The deal also allows a prisoner swap. Talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government are due to start at that time.

The US will also lift sanctions against the Taliban and will work with the UN to lift its separate sanctions against the group.

Some consider the deal could worsen the situation for women in Afghanistan.

Activist Zahra Husseini expressed her concern, “I don’t trust the Taliban, and remember how they suppressed women when they were ruling.”

“Today is a dark day, and as I was watching the deal being signed, I had this bad feeling that it would result in their return to power rather than in peace,” the 28-year-old told AFP.

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