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Afghan Taliban Announces Three-Day Cease-Fire Over Eid Holiday

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Afghan Taliban, joint photo

The Afghan Taliban has announced a three-day cease-fire over the Eid holiday, their first offer of its kind, following a cease-fire announced by the government.

The militants' cease-fire plan is not identical to the government's. The Taliban said early on June 9 that "foreign forces" would be excluded from their cease-fire and that they would defend themselves against any attack.

Currently, Afghanistan hosts about 15,600 U.S. and NATO troops.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani announced an unconditional cease-fire with the Taliban on June 7 to coincide with the holiday ending the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan next week, but the government only excluded the Islamic State extremist group.

The top U.S. general in Afghanistan said military operations against IS would intensify during the temporary cease-fire

Ghani's decision came after Islamic clerics declared a fatwa, or ruling, against suicide bombings at a gathering in Kabul that itself was the target of a suicide attack claimed by Islamic State that killed 14 people.

Ghani endorsed a recommendation by the clerics for a cease-fire with the Taliban, who are seeking to reimpose strict Islamic law after their ouster in 2001. The government's cease-fire is due to last from June 12 until around June 20.

It was not immediately clear when the Taliban cease-fire would begin, as Eid starts when the moon is first sighted on either the 29th or 30th day of Ramadan, and the moon appears at different times across the country.

Ghani has urged cease-fires with the Taliban before, but this was the first unconditional offer since he was elected in 2014.

Despite more aggressive military operations against the Taliban under a new approach adopted by U.S. President Donald Trump last year, the Taliban still hold large swaths of the country.

Based on reporting by AFP and Reuters