Afghan Taliban announce three days of Eid ceasefire – television channels

Afghan security forces are seated in a Humvee vehicle amid continuing fighting between Taliban militants and Afghan security forces in Kunduz on May 19, 2020. STR / AFP

The Taliban announced a three-day ceasefire during Eid al-Fitr's holiday, starting Sunday, in a surprise move after months of bloody fighting with Afghan forces after the group signed a historic deal with the United States.

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President Ashraf Ghani quickly received the insurgents' offer and ordered his forces to comply as well.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said in a statement released on social media that the "leadership of the group instructs all Islamic Emirate mujahiden to take special measures for the safety of compatriots and not to carry out any offensive operation against the enemy in place. some".

The statement, which announced the suspension of hostilities "during the three days of Eid", instructed Taliban fighters to refrain from entering government areas and also said that Kabul forces were not allowed to enter territories under their control .

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Since the U.S. invasion in 2001, there has been just one more pause in fighting – a three-day surprise ceasefire between the Taliban and Kabul marking the 2018 Eid religious festival.

This call for a ceasefire was given by President Ashraf Ghani, which the insurgents had accepted.

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During the brief pause in fighting at the time, Afghans responded cheerfully, with Taliban fighters, security forces and civilians embracing, sharing ice cream and posing for selfies in unimaginable scenes.

Ghani quickly accepted the Taliban's ceasefire offer.

"I welcome the Taliban's ceasefire announcement," he said on Twitter.

"As commander-in-chief, I instructed ANDSF (Afghan National Defense Security Force) to comply with the three-day truce and to defend itself only if attacked."

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Saturday's announcement comes just days after Taliban leader Haibatullah Akhundzada asked Washington not to "waste" the opportunity offered by the militants' agreement with the United States in February, which set the stage for the withdrawal of foreign troops. from the country.

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"The Islamic Emirate is committed to the agreement … and urges the other side to honor its own commitments and not allow this critical opportunity to be missed," Akhundzada said in a statement, using the Taliban's name for Afghanistan.

The signing of the agreement between the United States and the Taliban was preceded by the so-called "reduction of violence", but not by an official ceasefire.

– USA pushes for peace –
The US-Taliban agreement also aims to pave the way for insurgents to have direct peace talks with Kabul.

The administration of U.S. President Donald Trump has made the end of the war in Afghanistan a priority, and in an attempt to withdraw foreign forces, American officials have been pressuring the Taliban and government leaders to hold peace talks.

Analysts, however, say the Taliban was encouraged by the agreement with the U.S., and Afghan government officials have recorded more than 3,800 attacks since it was signed, killing 420 civilians and wounding 906.

But the top US official who brokered Washington's deal with the Taliban says the insurgents have maintained an end to the bargain – even if recent violence has violated the spirit of the deal.

"The Taliban implemented their agreement not to attack coalition forces," said US special representative in Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, earlier this month.

His statements came after a horrific attack on a maternity hospital in Kabul that killed dozens – including mothers and babies – and a suicide bombing at a funeral.

The Taliban denied involvement in the attacks, but President Ghani blamed them and the Islamic State (IS) group for the bloodshed.

After this attack and another suicide attack in the east of the country, the government ordered security forces to switch to an "offensive" stance against the Taliban.

The Taliban responded by promising to step up attacks against government forces.

The group has carried out regular attacks on Afghan forces in the past few days and earlier this week even tried to enter the northern city of Kunduz.

Afghan forces, however, managed to repel the Taliban's attack on Kunduz, a city that had fallen to insurgents twice before.

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