(Web Desk) – The Taliban said it has agreed to a temporary nationwide ceasefire in Afghanistan, providing a window during which a peace agreement with the United States could be signed.
According to foreign media reports, a peace deal would allow Washington to bring home its troops from Afghanistan and end its 18-year military engagement in the country.
The US wants any deal to include a promise from the Taliban that Afghanistan would not be used as a base by terrorist groups. The US has an estimated 12,000 troops in the country. The Taliban chief must approve the agreement but that is expected.
The duration of the ceasefire was not specified but it is being suggested it would last for 10 days. Those intra-Afghan negotiations are expected to be held within two weeks of the signing of a US-Taliban peace deal. They will likely decide what a post-war Afghanistan will look like, and what role the Taliban will play.
The negotiations would cover a wide range of subjects, such as the rights of women, free speech and the fate of the tens of thousands of Taliban fighters, as well as the heavily armed militias belonging to Afghanistan s warlords who have amassed wealth and power since the Taliban s ouster.
The Taliban have previously refused all Afghan government offers of a ceasefire, with the exception of a three-day truce in June 2018 over the Eid al-Fitr holiday. Talks between Afghans on both sides of the conflict would follow the peace deal and determine the shape of a post-war Afghanistan.
The news came as a Taliban attack in northern Afghanistan killed at least 17 militiamen. The attack apparently targeted a local militia commander who escaped unharmed, said Jawad Hajri, a spokesman for the governor of Takhar province, where the attack took place late on Saturday.
Local militias commonly operate in remote areas, and are under the command of either the Afghan defence or interior ministries. Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid claimed responsibility for the attack. On Monday, an American soldier was killed in combat in the northern Kunduz province. The Taliban claimed they were behind a fatal roadside bombing that targeted American and Afghan forces in Kunduz.
The following day, a Taliban attack on a checkpoint killed at least seven Afghan army soldiers in the northern Balkh province. Another six Afghan troops were killed in the same province Thursday in an attack on an army base. At least 10 Afghan soldiers were killed on Friday in a complex attack on a checkpoint in the southern Helmand province.
The Taliban frequently targets Afghan and US forces, as well as government officials, but scores of Afghan civilians are also killed in the crossfire or by roadside bombs planted by militants.