Taliban claim full control of Panjshir but resistance forces deny claim

Taliban claim full control of Panjshir but resistance forces deny claim thumbnail

image sourceReuters

image captionThe National Resistance Front of Afghanistan (NRF) has been resisting Taliban rule

The Taliban claim they are in complete control of the Afghan province of Panjshir, the final pocket of territory which remains outside their rule.

There’s been heavy fighting in the valley, which is north of the capital Kabul, with the National Resistance Front of Afghanistan (NRF) resisting Taliban rule.

“With this victory, our country is completely taken out of the quagmire of war,” a Taliban spokesman said.

However, the NRF have denied this.

“It is not true, the Taliban haven’t captured Panjshir I am rejecting Taliban claims,” NRF spokesman Ali Maisam told the BBC.

A tweet from the group’s Twitter handle also said: “The NRF forces are present in all strategic positions across the valley to continue the fight. We assure the ppl of Afghanistan that the struggle against the Taliban & their partners will continue until justice & freedom prevails.”

Pictures on social media showed Taliban fighters in front of the gate of the provincial governor’s compound. The BBC has not been able to independently verify these images.

The Taliban took control of the rest of Afghanistan three weeks ago, taking power in Kabul on 15 August following the collapse of the Western-backed government.

The leader of the NRF, Ahmad Massoud had said he was open to peace talks as recently as Sunday.

He said he supported a plan, put forward by religious clerics, for a negotiated settlement, and called on the Taliban to end their offensive.

In a post on Facebook, Mr Massoud said the NRF, which includes former Afghan security force members and local militias, would be prepared to stop fighting if the Taliban ceased their attacks.

There had been no response from the Taliban.

Panjshir, a rugged mountain valley, is home to between 150,000 and 200,000 people.

The resistance – which includes former Afghan security force members and local militias – is led by local tribal leader Ahmad Massoud.

His father successfully fought the Soviets who invaded in the 1980s, and the Taliban in the 1990s.

On Sunday two of the NRF’s prominent leaders were killed, which was a big setback for the group.

The front said its spokesman Fahim Dashti and a commander, Gen Abdul Wudod Zara, had been killed in the conflict, while a prominent Taliban general and 13 bodyguards had also died.

With the Taliban expected to announce a new government any day, foreign powers are adapting to the new reality of dealing with a Taliban administration.

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