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Afghanistan spends calm day as Taliban in ‘defense status’ during Eid al-Adha

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Afghan worshipers offer Eid al-Adha prayers in the courtyard of the Blue Mosque in Herat, Afghanistan, on 20 July 2021. (Photo by AFP)

Afghanistan has spent a relatively calm day, as the Taliban say they will only fight to defend themselves during the Muslim occasion of Eid al-Adha.

The Taliban and the government were expected to announce three days of ceasefire to mark the holiday on Tuesday, but no formal truce was declared. Instead, a spokesman for the Taliban told AFP on Wednesday that the group would remain “in defense status during Eid.”

The Taliban and Kabul have previously announced ceasefires during Muslim holidays.

An Afghan military commander also said on Tuesday that the government forces were “ready to thwart any plan by the enemy.” Acting Defense Minister Bismullah Mohammadi, who visited a border province on Tuesday, said that Afghan forces were fighting for peace, not for the continuation of war.

“We should have reached an agreement in the last 25 years, but you witnessed that the Taliban dominated a specific part of Afghanistan but could not get a result,” Mohammadi said.

“Conflicts continued, and they did some deeds in Kabul and other areas, but none were acceptable to the people of Afghanistan,” he added.

The militants have intensified attacks across Afghanistan recently as the United States completes a withdrawal of all its forces from the country. But there were no reports of fighting on Tuesday.

The militants claim to have already seized control of scores of districts and several important border crossings. They have also laid siege to a string of vital provincial capitals.

On Monday, a dozen diplomatic missions in Kabul called for “an urgent end” to the surge of violence.

The Taliban held another round of talks with the representative of the Afghan government in the Qatari capital, Doha, over the weekend. The two sides said in a joint statement late on Sunday that they had agreed on the need to reach a “just solution,” and to meet again next week.

Peace talks between the Taliban and Kabul, obligated under a deal between the US and the militant group in Doha last year, have made very little progress so far. 

Taliban leader Hibatullah Akhundzada also said over the weekend that he “strenuously favors” a political settlement to end decades of conflict in the county.

The US invaded Afghanistan in October 2001 under the pretext that the Taliban were harboring al-Qaeda, which had just carried out the so-called 9/11 attacks in the US. The invasion removed the Taliban from power, but insecurity and violence persist to this day.

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