Afghan government offers another ceasefire with Taliban, US hopeful

Afghan government offers another ceasefire with Taliban, US hopeful

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Afghan President Ashraf Ghani announced a three-month ceasefire with the Taliban ahead of the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha. (Photo by Jawad Jalali/Afghan government)

WASHINGTON — The Afghan government is offering another ceasefire to the Taliban, even as fighting rages in various parts of the nation.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani made the offer Sunday in news statements and tweets. He offered a month-long ceasefire to begin today, with the proposal to encompass the Eid al-Adha holiday.

“The cease-fire should be observed from both sides, and its continuation and duration also depend on the Taliban’s stand,” Ghani said in his announcement. If the cease-fire was accepted and followed, Ghani said it could be extended until November. 20, the birth anniversary of Prophet Muhammad.

The announcement coincided with Sunday’s celebrations of the 99th anniversary of Afghanistan’s independence.

There has been a surge in violence in Afghanistan as the one-year anniversary of President Trump’s revamped Afghan policy draws near.

Last week, Taliban forces seized the strategic southern city of Ghazni, with at least 150 people killed and 40 injured — most Afghan security forces. The Taliban also attacked major Afghan bases in Faryab and Baghlan provinces.

On Friday, Defense Secretary Jame Mattis told Pentagon reporters that he expects the Taliban to continue fighting in advance of Afghan elections, now scheduled for October.

“If you go back and study insurgencies when they get close to negotiation or an imposed end … here I’ll just point to there is a ceasefire coming up, there is an election coming up, you’ll often see an uptick in violence because that’s the only thing they can do,” Mattis said.

Mattis made the comments to a group of pool reporters accompanying him on his travel to South America. Talk Media News is a member of the larger pool that travels with Mattis and his remarks are made available to all pool members.

“They use terror,” Mattis said, referring to the Taliban. “They use bombs because they can’t win with ballots.”

The Afghan government and the Taliban had a short ceasefire earlier this year that both sides respected. In June, around a different holiday, Kabul had proposed a ceasefire but it did not take hold.

None of the ceasefires include ISIS, which both sides are battling in Afghanistan.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo expressed hope the cease fire would take hold.

“The last ceasefire in Afghanistan revealed the deep desire of the Afghan people to end the conflict, and we hope another ceasefire will move the country closer to sustainable security,” Pompeo said in a statement on Sunday.

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