KABUL: The Taliban announced its first ceasefire in Afghanistan since the 2001 USA invasion on Saturday, with a three-day halt in hostilities against the country´s security forces that was greeted with relief by war-weary Afghans. Ghani on Thursday, June 7, 2018 announced a weeklong cease-fire with the Taliban to coincide with the holiday.
"Mujahideen are instructed to halt offensives against local opponents, but defend if they are attacked", the group said.
The United States intends to step up military operations against the militant Islamic State group in eastern Afghanistan during a temporary ceasefire between the Afghan government and the Taliban, senior USA officials said on Friday.The Islamic State group has developed a stronghold in Nangarhar, on the porous eastern border with Pakistan and is among the countrys most risky militants since it appeared around 2015.
A Taliban statement released early on Saturday said its commanders had also been told to free captives they were sure would not rejoin Government forces.
Mohammad Haroon Chakhansuri, spokesman for the Afghan president, welcomed the cease-fire announcement during a news conference in Kabul.
"The government of Afghanistan is hopeful that this process will become a long term process and will result in a sustainable peace", Chakhansuri added.
The UN secretary-general's special representative for Afghanistan, Tadamichi Yamamoto, said he hoped the ceasefires would "serve as a stepping stone" towards peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban.
The Taliban had denounced the gathering, insisting that its jihad, or holy war, against foreign invaders was justified.
A member of security personnel stands guard in Kabul, Afghanistan.
Foreign combat forces withdrew from Afghanistan in 2014.
Despite the Taliban's recent efforts to join peace talks with the Afghan government, the Arab country has seen an uptick in violence. It is underpinned both by the heavy daily toll of the long war on ordinary Afghans and U.S. President Donald Trump's limited patience for the costly U.S. involvement here.
On Friday, senior US officials said they will intensify combat against the Islamic State affiliate in the country during the Kabul government's temporary halt to attacks on the Taliban. Mattis spoke to reporters during a break in a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation defense ministers meeting.
His offer comes amid a rise in attacks by the insurgents, who have gained ground in recent months despite a surge in ground and aerial offensives by USA and Afghan forces.
Laurel Miller, who served as a senior USA official for Afghanistan and Pakistan under both Obama and Trump, said that while any action to reduce violence was positive, the differing terms and timelines for the two parties' cease-fires made the current circumstance a fragile one. He added that eight insurgents were killed and more than a dozen others were wounded in the gun battle in Zewal district. Just hours before the Taliban's announcement, at least 17 soldiers were killed when their checkpoint came under attack by Taliban fighters in western Herat province, said Gelani Farhad, spokesman for the provincial governor.
Temori said seven others were wounded in Qala-e Zal district.
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.