Afghan Taliban raise hopes with surprise Eid ceasefire

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The Afghan Taliban have announced a three-day cease-fire over the Eid al-Fitr holiday at the end of the holy month of Ramadan, a first for the group, following an earlier cease-fire announcement by the government.

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.

Speaking on the sidelines of a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation defence ministers' meeting in Brussels, Nicholson said U.S. forces would respect the apparently unilateral ceasefire with the Taliban announced by Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on Thursday.

It's the first time the militants have made such an offer, which comes days after the government declared its own ceasefire.

"All the mujahideen are directed to stop offensive operations against Afghan forces for the first three days of Eid-al-Fitr", the Taliban said in a WhatsApp message to journalists.

President Ghani had ordered security forces to cease operations against the Taliban last week but stressed that the fight against the Islamic State, al-Qaida and other groups in the country would continue.

The Taliban statement said global forces in the US-led North Atlantic Treaty Organisation coalition would still be the target of attacks.

Despite the increasing intensity of conflict in Kabul and around the country, Afghans remain hopeful that the ceasefire will bring much needed relief in an otherwise intensifying war.

We are in the middle of a new offensive against ISIS in Nangarhar, says General John Nicholson.

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Le sommet aura lieu au sein de l'hôtel Capella, un établissement cinq étoiles notamment composé de deux bâtiments coloniaux des années 1880, construits pour accueillir les soldats britanniques et leurs familles, qui ont été restaurés.

The clerics were themselves targeted in a suicide attack claimed by IS, which killed 14 people at the entrance to their peace tent in Kabul.

But analysts were cautious, warning that the Taliban and its brutal arm the Haqqani Network could launch attacks on behalf of the Daesh group, which they are believed to have done previously.

In late February, Ghani also offered the Taliban a chance to be recognized as a legitimate political party and withdraw their names from worldwide sanctions lists in exchange for peace.

The Trump administration has increased the number of USA troops in Afghanistan in an effort to give local forces, which continue to struggle despite more than a decade and a half of outside support, a battlefield advantage. Mattis spoke to reporters during a break in a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation defense ministers meeting.

"In three days, maybe the unity of Taliban insurgents will be put to test", a European diplomat told Reuters.

In recent years, a resurgent Taliban has taken control of significant swaths of the country and terrorized citizens and foreigners alike. Hours before accepting the truce, the militants stormed military bases in western and northern Afghanistan, killing almost 40 soldiers.

Farhad said one soldier was wounded.

Temori said seven others were wounded in Qala-e Zal district.