Taliban Deny Reports of Ceasefire

KABUL, Afghanistan (AFP) — The Taliban on Monday denied agreeing to any ceasefire in Afghanistan after rumors swirled of a potential deal that could reduce fighting after more than 18 years of war.

“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 in a statement.

On Christmas Day, U.S. troops carry the remains of Army Sgt. 1st Class Michael Goble, who was killed in Afghanistan last week, to Dover Air Force Base, Delaware. (AP photo/Alex Brandon)

The statement comes as local and international forces brace for another bloody winter amid U.S.-Taliban talks to end the violence in Afghanistan.

Deadly bouts of fighting have continued even as Washington negotiates with the militants in a bid to reduce America’s military footprint in the country, in return for the insurgents ensuring an improved security situation.

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 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 United States secures an eventual deal to withdraw.

Washington has demanded a ceasefire before any peace agreement could be signed. The White House said it would have no comment on the conflicting reports about a ceasefire.

Afghanistan was the world’s deadliest conflict this year.

© Agence France-Presse/The Associated Press contributed to this report

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