January 23, 2019

Afghan, US Forces to Temporarily Halt Anti-Taliban Offensive

08 June 2018, 10:05 | Devin Moran

Alexander Shcherbak via Getty Images

Alexander Shcherbak via Getty Images

In a statement, the USA forces said that they too would observe the ceasefire with the Taliban, but that it would not affect their counterterrorism efforts terrorist groups like Islamic State and al-Qaida.

The week-long ceasefire, which was backed by the United States and would bring some welcome relief to war-weary civilians, will last "from the 27th of Ramazan until the fifth day of Eidul Fitr", President Ashraf Ghani tweeted from an official account, indicating it could run from June 12-19.

Afghan forces will continue to attack the local branch of the Islamic State and other hard-line militant groups, Ghani said.

"(Operations against ISIS) will continue, in fact will be even intensified during this period of ceasefire as we focus on ISIS", U.S. Army General John Nicholson, commander of U.S. and worldwide forces in Afghanistan, told reporters. The Taliban has insisted that it would negotiate only with Washington, but the US insists that it talk to the Afghan government.

Pakistan has a "fundamental responsibility" to address the use of its territory by malign actors like the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani network, a senior White House official has said. One such bombing, claimed by Islamic State, killed 14 people at the entrance to the clerics' peace tent in the capital Kabul. The Trump administration has sent additional troops to try to change the course of America's longest war.

And in February, Ghani called for peace talks with the Taliban.

"The Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan announces cease-fire from the 27th of Ramadan (June 12) until the fifth day of Eid-ul-Fitr (June 19) following the historic ruling [Fatwa] of the Afghan Ulema (clerics)..."

"We're going to leave resources devoted to protecting our forces and watching the enemy, even those that participate in the ceasefire, as well as intensifying the pressure on ISIS", Nicholson said on the sidelines of a meeting of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation defense ministers in Brussels.

"The only way for them to achieve a solution is to sit down at the negotiating table", he told reporters.

Curtis said regional engagement is central to America's efforts in Afghanistan. It wound down its combat mission in 2014 but its Resolute Support mission comprises nearly 16,000 troops from around 40 countries. Acknowledging the staying power of the Taliban after 17 years of war, the president wants to open peace discussions with leaders of the movement and show his government's flexibility in accommodating some Taliban demands.

USA Today noted that the insurgents routinely launched attacks to capture US-supplied equipment from Afghan security forces and disappeared into the countryside soon afterwards. On Wednesday, the Taliban attacked a police post in the eastern Ghazni province, killing three police and wounding five others, according to Ramadan Ali Mosseny, the province's deputy police chief.

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