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Saturday, July 24, 2021

Afghan fighting eases ‘de facto’ as Taliban follow Eid ceasefire

ISLAMABAD – Fighting in Afghanistan temporarily came to an end on Tuesday, the first day of the Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha, as Taliban insurgents said they were observing an undeclared ceasefire to enable Afghans to peacefully participate in the celebrations. Can you

While there were no reports of battlefield conflict between Afghan government forces and the Taliban across the country, a rocket attack shattered the capital Kabul during morning prayers, which mark the opening of the three-day Eid celebrations.

The Afghan Interior Ministry said at least three rockets landed near Rashtrapati Bhavan, where President Ashraf Ghani was offering Eid prayers with top government officials. But TV images showed Ghani and most of the other worshipers continued to pray at the outdoor gathering. There was no report of any casualties.

Security personnel inspect a damaged vehicle where rockets were fired in Kabul, Afghanistan, July 20, 2021.

Islamic State’s regional ally, known as IS Khorasan Province, has claimed responsibility for the attack.

The Taliban has called for Eid regularly with Afghan security forces since mid-2018, but the insurgent group made no such official announcement for this week’s celebration.

When asked why Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen did not announce a ceasefire this time, Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen told VOA, “Every year we have an Eid ceasefire so that our country can live peacefully.” And join the celebration with ease.”

“Sometimes we announce it officially and sometimes we don’t. But even when we don’t announce a ceasefire on Eid, practically it applies,” Shaheen explained.

The Afghan private Tolo News TV channel said there were no reports of Taliban attacks or clashes between government forces and insurgents in conflict districts.

“The end of the fighting allowed the Afghans to peacefully celebrate the start of the holiday,” the network reported.

Insecurity in Afghanistan has escalated as the withdrawal of foreign troops led by the United States goes ahead of schedule and should end by the end of next month.

The drawdown process is more than 95% complete, but it has encouraged the Taliban to step up attacks and cross the country’s major border crossings with neighboring countries, along with a growing number of Afghan districts.

The US-mediated peace talks between the Taliban and representatives of the Afghan government have yielded no significant results.

Top leaders of the two sides met in Doha, Qatar last week and agreed to speed up the peace process, but did not report any major success.

Shaheen reiterated on Tuesday that the Taliban does not intend to occupy Afghanistan militarily and wants to negotiate a peace arrangement with rival Afghans to end the war.

But Ghani and foreign critics are skeptical of the rebel promises.

“We have a resolve for peace, and we are ready to make sacrifices for it. But they (the Taliban) have no intention, nor do they want peace,” Ghani said in his nationally televised speech after the morning prayers for Eid.

On Monday, foreign diplomatic missions in Kabul also collectively called on the Taliban to immediately halt military attacks, saying they run counter to the rebel group’s claims of a negotiated settlement for the war.

“We continue to call for a political solution and an accelerated path to ending the violence,” US State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters in Washington on Tuesday.

“What we have been saying is that the people of Afghanistan are united in their desire for a just and lasting peace, and this is the diplomacy that we are supporting and most of the international community is supporting. ”


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