An official Taliban spokesman described jihad as “obligatory worship” and said that there would be no cease-fire during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. The spokesman’s stance is consistent with Taliban policy.
“Our fight is Jihad & obligatory worship, reward for every obligatory act of worship is multiplied x70 in #Ramadan,” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said on his official Twitter account on May 27, the official start of the Ramadan holiday.
“Calls for stopping Jihad in this holy month is ignorance of religion. Hurting civilians during #Ramadan & otherwise is a crime,” he continued in a separate tweet.
Mujahid’s stance on fighting during Ramadan is consistent with past statements. In 2013, while disputing a hack on Voice of Jihad that called for a cease-fire, Mujahid said the group would continue fighting.
“During the holy month of Ramadan, jihad has major rewards. And mujahideen will continue to employ all their fighting techniques to mount attacks on the enemy,” [Mujahid] said, according to Reuters.
The Taliban’s actions matches its words. The group has been launching attacks on Afghan security outposts, military bases, government buildings, and civilians who back the government since the start of Ramadan. In what AFP described as “the first major attack at the start of the holy month of Ramadan,” the Taliban killed 13 members of a CIA-backed militia in a suicide car bombing in the capital of Khost province.
The Taliban has repeatedly stated it has no intention of negotiating a cease-fire or conducting peace talks with the Afghan government. The Taliban has refused to denounce al Qaeda and maintains it seeks the return of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, the official name of the Taliban government that was overthrown by US forces in 2002. Despite this, the US, its western allies and the United Nations continue to push for peace talks.
Taliban claims it is “protecting civilian lives”
Mujahid issued another tweet claiming that the Taliban “place special attention to protecting civilian lives during all months of the year.”
However, a recent report by the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) noted that “Anti-Government Elements,” or the Taliban, its allies, and the rival Islamic State, account for 62 percent of the civilian casualties. The Taliban makes up the overwhelming percentage of the Anti-Government Elements. “Pro-Government Forces,” accounted for 21 percent of the civilians deaths, but UNAMA said most of these casualties “occurred indirectly.”
“Anti-Government Elements continued to target civilians intentionally and deploy indiscriminate tactics in areas with a civilian presence – in clear violation of their obligations under international humanitarian law. UNAMA documented attacks targeting civilian government employees, tribal elders, Muslim Shi’a mosques, humanitarian de-miners, NGO workers and civilians perceived to be government supporters,” the UNAMA report notes.
IEDs and suicide/complex attacks account for 36 percent of all civilian casualties recorded by UNAMA. These attacks are used exclusively by the Taliban, its allies, and the Islamic State. IEDs accounted for 19 percent of civil1an deaths, while suicide attacks and complex assaults were responsible for another 17 percent.