Taliban announces three-day ceasefire over Eid

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani announced an unconditional ceasefire with the Taliban on Thursday, until June 20, but excluding other militant groups, such as Islamic State.

The reciprocal truces appeared to be the most promising movement so far in more than a decade of disappointed peace efforts to end a conflict that has killed tens of thousands of Afghans and more than 450 British troops.

In the statement sent to the media early Saturday, the Taliban said its fighters would not launch attacks against Afghan security forces but that they would defend themselves if necessary.

The Taliban also asked their fighters to make arrangements for families of prisoners to visit them over Eid.

KABUL: The Taliban announced Saturday a three-day ceasefire with Afghan security forces for Eid, the holiday that caps off Ramadan, though it said operations against "foreign occupiers" would continue.

"Our operations will continue against them, we will attack them wherever we see them", it said.

The Taliban attacked security outposts in the Zawul district of western Herat province on Friday night, killing 17 troops and wounding several, Jelani Farhad, spokesman for the provincial governor, said.

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Ghani's surprise declaration came on the heels of a fatwa issued by Afghanistan's top clerics forbidding suicide attacks and a Pentagon announcement that senior Taliban officials had been negotiating with Afghan authorities on a possible ceasefire.

The Taliban, ousted from power in a US-led invasion in 2001, have not yet confirmed if they will respect the ceasefire, which was called to coincide with Eidul Fitr.

Ghani proposed a ceasefire and a release of prisoners among options including new elections involving the militants and a constitutional review in a pact with the Taliban to end a conflict that a year ago alone killed or wounded more than 10,000 civilians.

The clerics also recommended a ceasefire with the Taliban and Ghani endorsed the recommendation.

On Thursday Ghani said in a video message that he was calling for a ceasefire with the Taliban after religious scholars on Monday issued a fatwa against the ongoing war in the country.

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

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