United Nations welcomes temporary ceasefire announcement by Afghan govt; urges Taliban to reciprocate

ImageSecurity forces escorting Taliban fighters in Jalalabad Afghanistan

The United States welcomes Afghanistan's offer of a ceasefire to Taliban militants coinciding with the end of the Muslim fasting month and US forces in the country will respect the ceasefire, the State Department said on Thursday.

A statement sent from the president's office on Thursday says the cease-fire will begin on 27 Ramadan, or June 12 on the Western calendar, and last through the Eid al-Fitr holiday, until around June 19.

He added that the cease-fire is an opportunity for Taliban to "introspect that their violent campaign is not winning them hearts and minds but further alienating the Afghan people from their cause".

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.

Meeting in Kabul on June 4, the Afghan Ulema Council also appealed on both Afghan government forces and the Taliban and other militants to agree on a cease-fire, and called for peace negotiations between the sides.

"We will adhere to the wishes of Afghanistan for the country to enjoy a peaceful end to the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, and support the search for an end to the conflict", Gen. John Nicholson, commander of U.S. Forces-Afghanistan and the NATO-led Resolute Support mission said in a statement released Thursday.

This was President Ghani's first unconditional offer of a ceasefire since his election in 2014.

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The top US military commander in Afghanistan said that foreign forces will also honor the cease-fire.

According to the United States publication, it is possible that some of the equipment may have been diverted to the Taliban by corruption in Afghanistan's military.

The Taliban have steadily expanded their presence in recent years, capturing a number of districts across the country and carrying out near-daily attacks, mainly targeting Afghan security forces.

The ceasefire comes after Muslim clerics in Afghanistan issued a fatwa-or religious ruling-against suicide bombings, after an attack Monday, claimed by ISIS, killed 14 people who had gathered for a clerics' peace summit in Kabul.

The Taliban in response to Trump's strategy has intensified attacks against Afghan security forces, killing around 500 of them in just the month of May, according to Afghan officials and local media reports.

The United Nations has warned Afghan civilians continue to suffer record levels of casualties this year.

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