The Taliban announced on Friday that they had rejected a proposal from the government of Afghanistan to implement a ceasefire for the duration of Ramadan, further dashing hopes that the decades of conflict were nearing their end.
Kabul had asked for the truce so that it could focus on the country’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, but the Taliban showed no sign of stopping its attacks on security checkpoints that have killed dozens of Afghan soldiers and civilians in recent weeks.
Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen wrote on Twitter that “hurdles” were preventing the fundamentalist militants from “fully” implementing the terms of a ceasefire deal agreed to with the United States-led NATO forces in February, but did not specify what those hurdles were.
NATO: Level of violence ‘not acceptable’
Later on Friday, NATO slammed the Taliban for not adhering to its side of the deal, including not releasing prisoners quickly enough.
“The current level of violence caused by the Taliban is not acceptable,” alliance ambassadors in NATO’s North Atlantic Council said in a joint statement.
The statement added that it was now time for the Taliban to enter direct talks with Afghan government negotiators, which was part of the February agreement. Kabul’s exclusion from the negotiating table was a deep source of tension between the Afghan government and the US.
After signing the deal with the US, the Taliban has largely stopped attacking NATO targets — but it resumed its campaign against the national government and domestic forces almost immediately. If the Taliban sticks to certain stipulations, US-led forces are scheduled to completely leave the country by July 2021.
President Ashraf Ghani had initially called for the month-long ceasefire on Thursday as Afghanistan rushes to contain the 1,300 confirmed cases of COVID-19, before the nation’s weak healthcare system is overwhelmed.
es/msh (AFP, Reuters)