Citizens in Afghanistan celebrate the first day of reduced violence. Photo: Javed Tanveer/AFP via Getty Images

The U.S. military officially ceased offensive operations against the Taliban in Afghanistan early Saturday morning, The Washington Post reports.

Why it matters: This is the first step in the U.S.-Afghanistan peace process. If the "reduction of violence" for the next seven days is effective, the U.S. government and Taliban will likely sign a peace deal at the end of February.

  • Gen. Austin "Scott" Miller told reporters in Kabul “our operations are defensive at this point, we stopped our offensive operations as part of our obligations, but we remain committed to defend our forces," per the Post.

The big picture: The peace deal between the U.S. and Taliban is finally moving forward just as the United Nations releases a report more than 100,000 civilian casualties have been counted over the past 10 years, AP reports.

  • The United Nation's secretary-general's special representative for Afghanistan, Tadamichi Yamamoto, told AP, “Almost no civilian in Afghanistan has escaped being personally affected in some way by the ongoing violence. It is absolutely imperative for all parties to seize the moment to stop the fighting, as peace is long overdue; civilian lives must be protected and efforts for peace are underway.”

Go deeper: U.S. and Taliban announce first step in Afghanistan peace process

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