Dozens Of Afghan Security Personnel Killed In Taliban Attacks

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Responding to Ghani's announcement, the Taliban yesterday announced the suspension of fighting for the first three days of Eid - the first ceasefire by the militant group in Afghanistan since the 2001 United States invasion.

It will see a three-day halt in hostilities against the country's security forces, which has been greeted with relief by war-weary Afghans.

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

Their announcement came days after the Afghan government declared a unilateral eight-day ceasefire, and for the first time it promised Afghan civilians, who have borne the brunt of the 17-year conflict, a temporary reduction in violence, which has only been getting worse in recent years. The clerics also recommended a ceasefire with the Taliban, which Ghani endorsed.

Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi has welcomed the Afghan government's decision to announce a ceasefire with the Taliban on the occasion of Eid al-Fitr Muslim holidays in the war-stricken country.

Last month, the Pentagon said that senior Taliban officials have been secretly negotiating with Afghan officials on a possible ceasefire.

Although the Taliban statement did not acknowledge the government cease-fire, the moves by the two sides would overlap for three days. Ghani's surprise announcement underscored his desire to establish a peace process that could put an end to a conflict that even his backers say cannot be won militarily.

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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.

A Taliban spokesman claimed its fighters killed 35 soldiers and captured six others besides seizing military vehicles and weapons.

The Trump administration has sent additional troops to try to change the course of America's longest war.

Ghani proposed a ceasefire and a release of prisoners among a range of options including new elections involving the armed group, and a constitutional review in a pact with the Taliban to end a conflict that a year ago alone killed or wounded more than 10,000 Afghan civilians. Mattis spoke to reporters during a break in a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation defence ministers meeting. However, it insisted that attacks on foreign forces should continue.

Farhad said at least 13 others were wounded in the attack.

Ghani proposed a ceasefire and a release of prisoners among options including new elections involving the militants and a constitutional review in a pact with the Taliban to end a conflict that previous year alone killed or wounded more than 10,000 civilians.

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