20:32 GMT24 July 2021
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    Over the past few weeks, Taliban* militants have seized significant territories in rural Afghanistan and launched offensives on major cities, amid the withdrawal of US and NATO troops from the country.

    Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has reproached the Taliban for being reluctant to reach a peace deal with the government in order to stop the ongoing escalation of violence in Afghanistan.

    Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Ghani referred to Abdullah Abdullah, the chairman of Afghanistan's High Council for National Reconciliation, who told the Afghan president that "there is no will for peace in [the] Taliban".

    Afghanistan's President Ashraf Ghani speaks during a news conference following his meeting with U.S. President Joe Biden, at the Willard Hotel in Washington, D.C., U.S., June 25, 2021
    © REUTERS / KEN CEDENO
    Afghanistan's President Ashraf Ghani speaks during a news conference following his meeting with U.S. President Joe Biden, at the Willard Hotel in Washington, D.C., U.S., June 25, 2021
    "We sent the delegation to do the ultimatum and to show that we have the will for peace and we are ready to sacrifice for it, but they [the Taliban] have no will for peace and we should make decisions based on this", Ghani said, referring to an "urgent and practical plan" he is seeking to hammer out in a bid to resolve the current gridlock.

    He bemoaned the fact that despite the government releasing 5,000 Taliban prisoners in line with last year's peace deal, the militant group so far has not been ready for meaningful talks.

    Suhail Shaheen, a spokesman for the Taliban political office in Doha, however, told CNN that the group is seeking a "peaceful solution" and wants to have an "Afghan inclusive Islamic government".

    He was echowed by the Taliban's top leader Hibatullah Akhundzada, who stressed that he "strenuously favours" a political statement to the conflict in Afghanistan.

    The statement comes as the country celebrates the Muslim holiday Eid al-Adha, with the first day of the event ending with no reports of clashes between government forces and supporters of the Taliban, according to the Afghan broadcaster TOLOnews.

    This June 10, 2017 photo provided by Operation Resolute Support, U.S. Soldiers with Task Force Iron maneuver an M-777 howitzer, so it can be towed into position at Bost Airfield, Afghanistan
    © AP Photo / Sgt. Justin Updegraff
    This June 10, 2017 photo provided by Operation Resolute Support, U.S. Soldiers with Task Force Iron maneuver an M-777 howitzer, so it can be towed into position at Bost Airfield, Afghanistan

    The news outlet added that a day prior to the start of the celebrations, on 19 July, heavy clashes were reported to have taken place in at least 20 provinces in Afghanistan.

    The clashes occurred as the Afghan government and the Taliban held discussions in Qatar's capital city Doha, aiming to agree upon at least a three-day ceasefire that would allow them to celebrate Eid in peace, but to no avail.

    Afghanistan is seeing a growing spike in violence by the Taliban as US and NATO troops are gradually being withdrawn from the country. The troop withdrawal was one of the points of agreement that the Taliban and the United States reached in Doha in February of last year.

    Earlier this month, US President Joe Biden announced that his country would pull out its troops from Afghanistan by 31 August, updating his former order stipulating that the exit be completed by 11 September, the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on America.


    *Taliban, a terrorist group banned in Russia and anumber of other countries

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    Tags:
    escalation, violence, troops, withdrawal, Joe Biden, Ashraf Ghani, Afghanistan, US
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