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The U.S. Special Forces in Afghanistan on Saturday called on the Taliban to reduce violence in the country so that people can focus on preventing the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Col. Sonny Leggett, a spokesman for the U.S. Special Forces in Afghanistan, addressed Taliban spokesperson Zabiullah Mujahid in a tweet. The Taliban spokesperson had asked for clarity for similar calls made last week by Gen. Austin “Scott” Miller, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan.

“The people of Afghanistan want peace,” Leggett tweeted. “The world has asked the Taliban to cease violence and focus on #COVID19. Now is the time to stop the violence.”

On Tuesday, Miller had told the Taliban that if violence continued to escalate in Afghanistan, “then what they should expect is a response.”

As of early Sunday, Afghanistan has nearly 2,500 confirmed cases of coronavirus and 72 deaths.

In his letter to the Taliban, Leggett wrote that a cease-fire now is critical for the Afghan people, as “none of us could have predicted COVID-19 would spread across the world causing additional hardships.”

“This moment is an opportunity for Afghanistan — for the people of Afghanistan to say clearly to all who will listen that they want peace,” he wrote.

Mujahid responded to Leggett in a tweet, saying, “Do not harm the current environment with pointless & provocative statements. We are committed to our end, honor your own obligations.”

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