Taliban leaders have reportedly ordered insurgents to halt attacks that might cause civilian casualties, a Taliban spokesperson revealed.
“Since the cease-fire, we have not had any martyrdom attacks in Kabul,” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told The New York Times in a phone interview. “On the martyrdom attacks in the cities, our superiors cautioned us against them, and we are going to obey their orders.”
The Taliban agreed to an unprecedented three-day ceasefire with the Afghan government for the Muslim Eid holiday in June. The temporary truce was apparently followed by a noticeable change in Taliban tactics.
“We can see a change in their ranks,” Shah Hussain Murtazawi, deputy spokesman for President Ashraf Ghani, said. “There are fewer suicide attacks in the cities now, but it is not the end of suicide attacks.” While the Taliban may be putting an end to suicide bombings, the group’s military operations continue unaffected elsewhere. Taliban forces continue to target police and security forces with unchecked brutality.
The Taliban refused to extend the ceasefire when propositioned by the Afghan government.
It is notable that the Taliban is reportedly taking an interest in limiting civilian casualties in the war for the future of Afghanistan. A new U.N. report released Sunday revealed that 1,692 civilians were killed in Afghanistan in the first six months of this year, the highest number on record. The Taliban were responsible for roughly 40 percent of those deaths.
The Taliban launched regular attacks in the Afghan capital of Kabul earlier this year. Taliban gunmen raided the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul, killing 22 people in January. Several days later, Taliban extremists detonated an ambulance filled with explosives outside a hospital, killing nearly 100 people and injuring numerous others.
The Taliban simply warned civilians in the past that they may be collateral damage if they are near government buildings or coalition facilities. Now, there is seems to be an active effort to reduce civilian casualties, a possible change of heart as talk of peace negotiations becomes more commonplace.
The Taliban’s reported decision to limit attacks on civilians is a unilateral decision that has no effect on operations by the embattled Islamic State, which is waging an aggressive campaign to secure territory in Afghanistan as the caliphate crumbles in other parts of the world. ISIS is as much at war with the Taliban as the group is with U.S.-led coalition forces.
“Daesh or ISIS have nothing else to do but to kill civilians wherever they like,” Mujahid told TheNYT. “We will annihilate Daesh, God willing.” (RELATED: ISIS And Taliban Jihadis Are Blowing Each Other Apart In Afghanistan)
ISIS militants killed more than a dozen people, including a Taliban commander, in an attack on a gathering Tuesday. Reports on the specifics vary, as some report the attack hit a meeting involving Taliban leaders and local elders, while others claim it was a deadly assault on a funeral at a mosque in northern Afghanistan, where ISIS is trying to expand its presence.
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