Taliban announces three-day ceasefire over Eid The US and Afghanistan: can’t win the war, can’t stop it, can’t leave

The have announced a three-day ceasefire over Eid, the holiday that caps off Ramadan, though they said operations against “foreign occupiers” would continue.

It is the first time the group has agreed to a ceasefire at Eid since the US invasion in 2001.

The militants said foreign forces would be excluded from the ceasefire and that operations against them would continue. They also said they would defend themselves against any attack.

“All the mujahideen are directed to stop offensive operations against Afghan forces for the first three days of Eid-al-Fitr,” the Taliban said in a WhatsApp message. “But if the mujahideen are attacked we will strongly defend [ourselves].”

The Taliban added that “foreign occupiers are the exception” to the order sent to its fighters. “Our operations will continue against them, we will attack them wherever we see them,” it said.

On Thursday the Afghan president, Ashraf Ghani, declared an apparently unilateral week-long ceasefire with the Taliban. It would last “from the 27th of Ramadan until the fifth day of Eid-al-Fitr”, Ghani tweeted from an official account, indicating it could run from 12-19 June.

The move came days after a gathering of Afghanistan’s top clerics in the capital Kabul called for a ceasefire and issued a fatwa against suicide bombings and attacks.

An hour after the fatwa was issued, a suicide bomber detonated a device outside the gathering, killing seven people.

The US and Afghanistan: can’t win the war, can’t stop it, can’t leave

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

It was not immediately clear when the Taliban ceasefire would begin, as Eid starts when the moon is first sighted on either the 29th or 30th day of Ramadan, and the moon appears at different times across the country.

Ghani has , but this was the first unconditional offer since he was elected in 2014.

In August Donald Trump unveiled a more hawkish US military approach to , including a surge in airstrikes, aimed at forcing the Taliban to the negotiating table.

Afghan security forces say the impact has been significant, but the Taliban roam huge swaths of the country and, with foreign troop levels of about 15,600, down from 140,000 in 2014, there appears little hope of outright victory.

Source : theguardian[dot]com