Taliban agree three-day Eid ceasefire in Afghanistan

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File photo of Taliban fighters in Afghanistan in November 2009
Image caption The Taliban have extended their reach across the country

The Taliban have announced a three-day ceasefire with Afghan government forces for Eid, later this month, but it will not apply to foreign forces.

The group directed its fighters to stop all offensive operations during the holiday, although it said they would defend themselves if attacked.

This is the first time the Taliban have agreed a ceasefire since the 2001 US-led invasion.

The government announced a unilateral ceasefire earlier this week.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said the Taliban move was an opportunity for the militants to realise “their violent campaign” was “not winning them hearts and minds but further alienating the Afghan people from their cause”.

Government forces will not stop fighting other militants, like the Islamic State (IS) group.

The Afghan government’s declaration of a ceasefire – the first unconditional offer of a ceasefire by this government – follows a meeting of religious clerics, who earlier this week issued a fatwa condemning militant violence as un-Islamic.

The clerics were themselves targeted in a suicide attack claimed by IS, which killed 14 people at the entrance to their peace tent in Kabul.

Image copyright EPA
Image caption President Ashraf Ghani wants peace talks to follow a ceasefire

Eid-al-Fitr marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan.

It is unclear when the ceasefire will begin, as Eid begins when the moon is first sighted. Afghan calendars however mark the end of Ramadan as Friday 15 June.

The US state department said its forces and coalition partners in Afghanistan would “honour the ceasefire”.

Foreign troop levels in the country have dropped to around 15,000, although US President Donald Trump last year announced more air strikes in the country and wiped troop withdrawal deadlines.

Foreign combat forces withdrew from Afghanistan in 2014.

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