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Taliban head rejects call for holiday truce; US envoy heads to region

Afghan provincial governors and members of the High Peace Council, an organization set up to promote peace talks with the Taliban, gather Dec. 6, in Kandahar City, Afghanistan, to talk about reintegrating former Taliban into society. (Spc. Edward A. Garibay, 16th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment/U.S. Army)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

The head of the Taliban ruled out calling a cease-fire anytime soon, as the United States envoy headed to the region for new round of efforts to end the long-running war in Afghanistan.

In his comments on June 1, Haibatullah Akhundzada also claimed that foreign forces in Afghanistan were “condemned to defeat.” However, he also said Islamist fighters would continue talks with the United States.

The Taliban’s fight “and resistance against the occupation is nearing the stage of success, Allah willing,” Akhundzada said in a message timed for Eid, the festival that ends the holy month of Ramadan.

“No one should expect us to pour cold water on the heated battlefronts of jihad or forget our 40-year sacrifices before reaching our objectives,” Akhundzada said.

Last year, the Taliban observed a three-day cease-fire during Eid. Many Afghans have hoped for another truce this year.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani had proposed a nationwide cease-fire at the start of Ramadan, but the Taliban rejected the offer.

Meanwhile, U.S. envoy Zalmay Khalilzad was heading to Afghanistan and also Germany, Belgium, Qatar, Pakistan, and the United Arab Emirates as part of continuing efforts to try and end the war.

The State Department said Khalilzad will continue talks with the Taliban in Doha, where the group has a political office.

The Taliban has refused to negotiate directly with the Kabul government.

In Kabul, Khalilzad was expected to meet representatives of civil society and women’s rights groups.