Last week as the Taliban surrounded and eventually took over Kabul, north-central Afghanistan's Panjshir Valley became the only area to remain firmly out of the militant's control. The heart of the anti-Taliban movement, Panjshir had never been occupied by the Soviets in the 1970s or by the Taliban in the 1990s. But now, as the Taliban look to cement their position in the war-torn nation, hundreds of militants are reportedly making their way to the region.
According to reports quoting the Taliban, their fighters have surrounded the resistance forces in the valley. Reportedly, they are looking to negotiate rather than fight. But with previous calls for surrender having been ignored, it is unclear how things will play out.
"If the Taliban try to seize control of Panjshir valley, resistance fighters will be ready to resist," Ahmad Massoud told a media publication recently. The resistance is being led by the son of Ahmad Shah Massoud, one of the main leaders of Afghanistan's anti-Soviet resistance in the 1980s and Amrullah Saleh, the first vice president from Ghani's cabinet.
📸 Afghan resistance and anti-Taliban forces guard an outpost in Kotal-e Anjuman, Paryan district in Panjshir province.— AFP News Agency (@AFP) August 24, 2021
The Taliban says its fighters have surrounded the resistance forces holed up in the valley, but are looking to negotiate rather than fight pic.twitter.com/2nD7tAxyNu
A day after stating that "hundreds" of fighters were heading for the Panjshir Valley to gain control of the province, the Taliban have no laid siege to the province. According to an update shared by VP Amrullah Saleh, the militant group has "massed forces near the entrance of Panjshir a day after they got trapped in ambush zones of neighboring Andarab valley".
"Talibs aren't allowing food and fuel to get into Andarab valley. The humanitarian situation is dire. Thousands of women and children have fled to mountains. Since the last two days Talibs abduct children and elderly and use them as shields to move around or do house search," Saleh tweeted early on Tuesday morning. An earlier update had added that Salang highway had been closed by the forces of the Resistance.
According to a report on Monday night, the Panjshir based movement has made gains in the northern Baghlan province as talks to form a new government continue. Fighters of the self-styled "Resistance-2" against the Taliban in Panjshir said that they have managed to retake Salah and Banu districts in Baghlan after killing "dozens" of Taliban fighters.
(with inputs from agencies)
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