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Taliban slams ‘baseless reports' of ceasefire plans

File photo of US-Taliban peace talks in Doha, Qatar in February 2019.
File photo of US-Taliban peace talks in Doha, Qatar in February 2019. Stringer, Qatari Ministry of Foreign Affairs, AFP

The Taliban on Monday denied agreeing to any ceasefire in Afghanistan after rumours swirled of a potential deal that would see a reduction in fighting after more than 18 years of war. 

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In a statement released on Twitter, the Taliban’s official spokesman said the group has “no intention of declaring a ceasefire”.

Blasting multiple US media reports suggesting the group was ready to announce a temporary truce, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid denied “propaganda by some outlets” of a schism within the movement over the ceasefire issue. "Some intelligence circles are utilizing the media in an effort to generate anxiety, false optimism and sabotage the ongoing negotiations process through the dissemination of misleading information," said the statement without providing further details. 


The statement from the insurgents comes as local and international forces brace for another bloody winter amid renewed US-Taliban talks, after US President Donald Trump abruptly called off the negotiations earlier this year, including a planned Camp David summit, due to insurgent attacks. While the Afghanistan peace talks do not include the Afghan government, Trump revealed the Camp David summit was set to include Afghan President Ashraf Ghani.

Peace talks between the Taliban and US resumed December 7, following Trump’s first-ever visit to Afghanistan over Thanksgiving. “On that visit, President Trump met with US soldiers at the Bagram military base. These talks, which restarted on December 7, again had a pause after the Bagram US military base was attacked by the Taliban. So for now, the situation seems to be very confused in the war-torn country,” explained Shahzaib Wahlah, reporting for FRANCE 24 from Lahore, Pakistan.

 


The talks, held mainly in the Qatari capital, Doha, were aimed at allowing the US to begin withdrawing troops in return for various security guarantees.

Trump is looking to slash the troop presence in Afghanistan, potentially even before a deal between Washington and the Taliban is cemented.

Daily attacks, mounting civilian death tolls

The talks have not seen a reduction of violence in Afghanistan with the Taliban staging attacks across the country virtually every day.

Earlier Monday, in northern Afghanistan's Jowzjan province, the Taliban killed at least 13 Afghan security forces during a raid on a pro-government militia position, according to a provincial spokesman.

Every day Afghan civilians also continue to bear the brunt of the bloody conflict. The country passed a grim milestone this year, with more than 100,000 killed or wounded over the past decade, the United Nations said last week.

A UN tally found last year was the deadliest on record, with at least 3,804 civilian deaths caused by the war -- including 927 children.

Afghanistan is also struggling with an ongoing political dispute after officials announced preliminary results in the latest presidential elections that put President Ghani on track to secure a second term.

Election authorities have yet to declare the results as final after receiving more than 16,000 complaints about the polls, with the ultimate tally expected in the coming weeks.

The Taliban have long viewed Ghani as an American stooge and have refused to negotiate with his government, leading many to fear that fighting against Afghan forces will continue even if the US secures an eventual deal with the militants to withdraw.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

 

 

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