During the Afghan Eid Holiday, the Taliban are on ‘Defense Status.’
The Taliban announced on Wednesday that during the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha, they would only fight to defend themselves, but stopped short of proclaiming a formal ceasefire.
With foreign soldiers on the way out, the militants are launching sweeping offensives across Afghanistan, taking territory, seizing border crossings, and surrounding cities.
“I can affirm we are in defense status during Eid,” a Taliban spokesman told AFP, without providing any other specifics.
One of the most important festivals on the Muslim calendar, Eid al-Adha, sees cattle sacrificed in order to share with the less fortunate. The celebrations in Afghanistan began on Monday and will last until the end of Friday.
For previous Islamic holidays, terrorists established a cease-fire with government forces, giving Afghans a little break to see relatives in relative safety.
However, the group has been chastised for utilizing ceasefires to strengthen locations and resupply fighters, allowing them to assault Afghan security forces once the ceasefire has expired.
The Taliban’s remark comes a day after President Ashraf Ghani declared in a speech that the Taliban had demonstrated “no will and intention for peace,” despite minimal progress in negotiations between the two warring parties.
At least three rockets hit near the presidential palace minutes before Ghani’s address, where he was holding outdoor prayers with top officials to mark the start of Eid.
The Islamic State (IS) claimed responsibility for the attack.
Despite their fundamental differences, the much smaller IS has been accused of serving as a stooge for the Taliban in the past, particularly in attacks against civilian government employees.
More than a dozen diplomatic missions in Kabul urged for a “immediate end” to the Taliban’s current onslaught this week, arguing that it contradicted the Taliban’s assertions that they want to reach a political agreement to end the conflict.
That remark came after another round of fruitless meetings between the two parties in Doha over the weekend, which many had hoped would jumpstart the stalled peace process.
Even as the hardline Islamist movement capitalizes on the final stages of the US-led foreign force pullout, the Taliban’s supreme leader Hibatullah Akhundzada claimed over the weekend that he “strenuously favors” a political settlement.