Ashraf Ghani
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani speaks during a peace and security cooperation conference in Kabul, Afghanistan, Feb. 28, 2018. REUTERS/Omar Sobhani

U.S. Central Command issued a statement late Thursday stating it supports Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s decision to unilaterally declare a cease-fire with the Taliban.

“U.S. Central Command firmly supports President Ghani's decision to unilaterally declare a cease-fire in response to the people of Afghanistan's desire for a peaceful conclusion to the holy month of Ramadan,” said the statement issued by Commander Gen. Joseph Votel.

The statement said: “All journeys begin with a single step, and we hope the Taliban joins the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan in taking this first step towards what could be a more peaceful, prosperous and secure Afghanistan.”

The government has answered the call of all the people and religious leaders who asked for peace, the statement said.

President Ghani on Thursday announced a temporary ceasefire with the Taliban, coinciding with the end of the Ramadan fasting month, Eid.

This decision follows Ghani’s unconditional offer of talks with the Taliban in February to which the Taliban has not responded yet.

Ghani said “This ceasefire is an opportunity for the Taliban to introspect that their violent campaign is not winning them hearts and minds but further alienating the Afghan people from their cause,” the Atlantic reported.

“With the ceasefire announcement we epitomize the strength of the Afghan government and the will of the people for a peaceful resolution to the Afghan conflict,” Ghani posted on twitter after the announcement.

The gesture came after Islamic clerics declared a fatwa, or ruling, against suicide bombings this week.

“The Fatwa declared that violence and suicide attacks are not only against Islam but also strictly forbidden in our religion. We also welcome the unprecedented fatwa that only the state can declare jihad thereby rendering violent campaign by any group anything but a holy war,” Ghani tweeted.

Gen. John Nicholson, U.S. Forces-Afghanistan and the NATO-led Resolute Support commander said, “We will adhere to the wishes of Afghanistan for the country to enjoy a peaceful end to the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, and support the search for an end to the conflict,” Reuters reported.

“From a military prospect, it is not a good move,” said Former Afghan army general Atiqullah Amarkhel, stating this would give the Taliban a chance to regroup.

Ghani, in February, offered recognition of the Taliban as a legitimate political group in an attempt to put to end the 16-year-old war.

However, The Taliban continued fighting with heavy battles taking place between the Taliban and the security forces in the last few weeks in Badakhshan, Baghlan and Faryab provinces of Afghanistan.

10 Taliban militants were killed by Afghan security forces in eastern province of Nangarhar as the ceasefire took effect on Friday. “We finished the operation and will now follow the ceasefire plan," an official said.

The 10 militants included five Pakistanis. In a different attack on a lawmaker's house in the same region, four people were killed by unidentified gunmen on Friday.

"With so many militant groups active here, how do we identify who is the Taliban and who is not?" a military commander told Al Jazeera.

"The Taliban want to take over the country and have the foreign forces out. Our brothers [police and soldiers] have sacrificed their lives for this fight, and after this announcement, we are helpless and cannot even protect our people or even us," the military commander added.

Reuters reported that Russia too has welcomed the ceasefire but doubts that the Taliban will join it.