The Taliban has rejected a request by the Afghan government to extend its three-day ceasefire. The Taliban claims that the short-lived lull in the fighting proved that it has command-and-control over its forces throughout the country and that the mujahideen enjoy popular support.
The Afghan Ministry of Defense claims Mullah Fazlullah was killed in a US airstrike in Kunar on June 13. His death has not been confirmed by the US or the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan. Fazlullah’s death, if confirmed, may not be as impactful as US, Pakistani, and Afghan officials would like to believe.
Yet again, the Taliban stated that it will only negotiate after US and NATO forces withdraw from Afghanistan, and that everyone must accept the “ground realities,” meaning that the Taliban will rule the country.
The move by the Taliban directly contradicts the top US and NATO general in Afghanistan’s assertion that the Taliban is “no longer attempting to gain new ground.”
The Taliban has announced that it will refrain from offensive operations against the Afghan government for three days during the Eid holiday. However, this is a shorter timeframe than the Afghan government’s announced ceasefire. And the jihadists say they will continue to attack the “foreign occupiers,” meaning the US and allied forces, during this brief respite. The Taliban also does not say it will participate in meaningful peace talks with the Afghan government.
In early May, the Taliban shut down the main highway that links Ghazni and Paktia provinces in eastern Afghanistan. One month later, the Taliban continues to control the road and tax civilians as Afghan forces have been unable to secure the road.
The government of Afghanistan announced yesterday that it has entered into a unilateral ceasefire with the Taliban. Gen. John Nicholson, who oversees the US-led war effort, claimed it was a “bold initiative for peace.” But the thinking behind the ceasefire is confused.
A suicide bomber struck a meeting of the Afghan Ulema Council (AUC) in Kabul earlier today. The Taliban’s spokesman denied that his group had any connection to the attack. However, the Islamic State claimed responsibility via its Amaq News Agency, which released two short messages on the “martyrdom” operation.