Taliban agree three-day Eid ceasefire in Afghanistan

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The Afghan Taliban on Saturday announced a three-day ceasefire over the Eid holiday at the end of this week, their first offer of its kind, following a ceasefire announced by the government on Thursday. Ghani on Thursday, June 7, 2018 announced a weeklong cease-fire with the Taliban to coincide with the holiday.

"Our operations will continue against them, we will attack them wherever we see them", it said.

Afghan security forces say the impact has been significant, but the Taliban roam huge swaths of the country and, with foreign troop levels of about 15,600, down from 140,000 in 2014, there appears little hope of outright victory.

Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mojahid claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement to media.

"I hope this ceasefire will turn into a process and as a professional army we await the president and the Afghan leadership's order".

"The government of Afghanistan is hopeful that this process will become a long term process and will result in a sustainable peace", Chakhansuri added.

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More than two weeks ago the top United States commander in Afghanistan, Gen. John Nicholson, said some Taliban leaders were in contact with the Afghan government.

The religious gathering was attacked on Monday by a suicide bomber, killing at least seven people.

The Taliban had denounced the gathering, insisting that its jihad, or holy war, against foreign invaders was justified.

People from different parts of the country also welcomed the ceasefire by both sides - government and the Taliban.

The US and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation formally concluded their combat mission in Afghanistan in 2014, but the US still has thousands of forces based there in a support and counterterrorism role.

The Trump administration has sent additional troops to try to change the course of America's longest war.

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Ghani said fighting against other armed groups such as Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) will continue.

In its statement, the Afghan Taliban said it would allow prisoners to visit with families and asked for the group's regional leaders to commute some prisoners' sentences. Mattis spoke to reporters during a break in a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation defense ministers meeting.

The Islamist insurgency has inflicted heavy casualties on Afghan forces since launching its spring offensive in April and reportedly killed around 500 personnel last month.

Just hours before the Taliban's Saturday announcement, at least 17 soldiers were killed when their checkpoint came under attack by the Taliban in western Herat province, said Gelani Farhad, spokesman for the provincial governor.

Laurel Miller, who served as a senior US 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.

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