Taliban in Afghanistan announce temporary ceasefire

Tit-for-tat response to landmark ceasefire declared by Afghan president
KABUL, Afghanistan: The Taliban in Afghanistan on Saturday announced a three-day truce for the forthcoming Muslim festival of Eid al-Fitr in an apparent reply to the earlier unilateral ceasefire announced by the Afghan government for nine days.
Afghanistan is expected to celebrate Eid on June 15-17, depending on the lunar calendar.
The five-point statement in Pashto language released by Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahed is a tit-for-tat response to the landmark ceasefire declared by Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani earlier this week in which foreign terrorist groups such as al-Qaeda, Daesh and others were exempted.
In a televised announcement on Thursday, Ghani said the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) would only stop offensive maneuvers against armed Taliban militants and would continue to target Daesh and other foreign-backed terrorist organizations and their affiliates.
“We also welcome the unprecedented fatwa [religious decree] that only the state can declare jihad, thereby, rendering violent campaign by any group anything but a holy war,” Ghani said, referring to the ruling issued by a group of over 3,000 Afghan religious scholars against terrorism.
The U.S. welcomed Ghani’s announcement, saying Washington and its NATO allies would halt hostilities during the temporary truce.
“The Afghan government’s offer of a temporary cease-fire underscores its commitment to peace as both a national and religious responsibility,” U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement.
Since the fall of the Taliban in 2001, many provincial heads of the pro-government National Council of Ulama (religious scholars or clergymen) and other pro-government religious figures have been assassinated in Afghanistan.–AA

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