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Taliban say have ‘no ceasefire plans’ in Afghanistan

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The Taliban 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.

The statement from the insurgents comes as local and international forces brace for another bloody winter amid renewed US-Taliban talks, after President Donald Trump called off the negotiations earlier this year over insurgent attacks.

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“In the past few days, some media have been releasing untrue reports about a ceasefire… The fact is that, the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan has no ceasefire plans,” the Taliban said.

The US and the Afghan government in Kabul have long called for a ceasefire with the Taliban, including during the year of negotiations between Washington and the Taliban that were abruptly called off by Trump in September.

However, the militants have repeatedly stated that any potential truce will only be ironed out after American troops withdraw from the country.

The US-Taliban talks, held mainly in Doha, were aimed at allowing Washington to begin withdrawing troops in return for various security guarantees.

They were on the brink of a deal when Trump abandoned the effort in September, citing Taliban violence. Negotiations have since restarted in Doha, but were earlier this month put on a “pause”.

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

Meanwhile deadly bouts of fighting continue, with tens of thousands of Afghan security forces killed since they inherited combat operations from NATO at the end of 2014.

Every day Afghans also continue to bear the brunt of the bloody conflict.

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Last week the UN said the country had passed a grim milestone this year, with more than 100,000 Afghan civilians killed or wounded over the past decade.

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

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

Elections 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.

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Trump says there’s been ‘confusion’ — but urges supporters to mask up: ‘We have nothing to lose’

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After months of casting doubt about wearing masks, President Donald Trump on Monday emailed his supporters about the "confusion" on the subject.

"We are all in this together, and while I know there has been some confusion surrounding the usage of face masks, I think it's something we should all try to do when we are not able to be socially distanced from others," Trump wrote in the email, that was posted online by multiple journalists.

I don't love wearing them either. Masks may be good, they may be just okay, or they may be great," the email read.

In the email, Trump referred to COVID-19 as "the China Virus."

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Here’s why the coronavirus spike is especially devastating to rural communities

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The first coronavirus hot spots in the country were densely-populated cities with international ports of entry, like New York City, San Francisco, and Seattle.

But the virus has now penetrated deep into rural areas around the country. And according to Politico, a new study has shed light on the catastrophic problems this has created for rural communities: more than half of U.S. rural communities have no ICU beds, forcing hospitals to transfer patients far away to other facilities that can accommodate severe COVID-19 cases.

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Joy Reid medical expert blasts the president’s lies on coronavirus: ‘Trump needs to stay in his lane’

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MSNBC anchor Joy Reid interviewed Dr. Bernard B. Ashby about the latest coming from the White House on the coronavirus pandemic.

"If, for instance, you did not test for pregnancy, does it mean you are not pregnant?" Reid asked.

Ashby, a cardiologist from Miami, praised the anchor on her new primetime show, "The ReidOut," but did not directly answer the question.

"And in terms of the whole discourse, the fact that I'm having to respond to Trump about clinical medicine is ridiculous," Dr. Ashby explained.

"Trump needs to stay in his lane. Like, we went to medical school for a long time, we did training for a long time to speak on exactly what ... we have the expertise to speak on and the fact that Trump is asserting himself in academic medicine, into clinical medicine is ridiculous," he explained.

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