Ghani declares end to truce with Taliban, renews call for peace
Iran Press TV
Sat Jun 30, 2018 09:50AM
Afghanistan's President Ashraf Ghani has formally announced an end to the government's unilateral ceasefire with Taliban insurgents, but urged the militant group to accept comprehensive peace talks.
"The ceasefire has ended, our security and defense forces are allowed to carry out operations," Ghani stated on Saturday during a press conference at the presidential palace in the capital Kabul.
He also ordered security forces to resume operations against the group.
Ghani said the ceasefire, which lasted 18 days after it was extended once and overlapped with the Taliban's unilateral three-day truce at the end of the holy month of Ramadan, had been "98 percent successful".
The three days of no fighting were unprecedented in the nearly 17-year conflict and triggered jubilant scenes across the war-weary country.
It saw unarmed Taliban militants mingling with government troops, police and civilians on the streets of Kabul and elsewhere.
Ghani said the ceasefire had shown that the majority of the insurgents wanted peace and it was the "Taliban's turn to give a positive response".
"I am ready to extend the ceasefire anytime when the Taliban are ready," he said at a press conference.
The Taliban vowed Tuesday to continue their bloody fight against the government and their foreign backers, brushing aside rising civilian casualties.
The insurgents returned to the battlefield last week after refusing a government request to extend their ceasefire, launching attacks across the country that have seen scores killed or injured.
The truces did not extend to the Daesh terrorist group, which has a relatively small but potent presence in Afghanistan, and launched two deadly attacks on ceasefire revelers during Eid al-Fitr.
The Taliban announced on Saturday that they had waged an armed assault on Dasht-e Qala, a district in the northern province of Takhar, which they briefly overran last month.
The US invaded Afghanistan in 2001 with the express aim of toppling the Taliban. Now, some 17 years on, the militant group rules supreme in the war-torn country and the US has shown interest more than ever in negotiating with the militants.
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