Taliban besiege strategic Panjsher, after recapturing 3 districts

Tariq Saeed

The Taliban fighters after recapturing the three districts in northern Afghanistan that had earlier fallen to the local militia group, headed by Ahmad Masood, the son of former Mujahedeen leader Ahmad Shah Masood, are reported to have besieged the strategic City of Panjsher, the last pocket of anti-Taliban resistance in northern Afghanistan.

The districts of Bano, Deh Saleh, Pul e-Hesar in Baghlan province, it may be recalled, were taken by local militia groups in one of the first signs of armed resistance to the Taliban since their seizure of the capital Kabul on August 15.

Our forces have recaptured these three districts in northern Afghanistan that fell to local militia groups last week, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahidsaid on Monday.

By Monday, Taliban forces had cleared the districts and were established in Badakhshan, Takhar and Andarab near the Panjsher valley.

The Taliban spokesman admitted that forces loyal to Ahmad Masood have established themselves in the Panjsher valley, a mountainous area northwest of Kabul which resisted the Taliban before 2001.

Ahmad had declared war against the Taliban using Panjsher valley as their holdout.He has reportedly amassed small weapons, ammunition, artillery, and tanks in the valley. His forces have also been equipped with a few military helicopters.

Taliban’s Alemarah information service said Monday hundreds of fighters were heading towards Panjsher yet there are no reports of any fighting.

Taliban Spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said the Salang Pass, on the main highway running from southern Afghanistan to the north, was open and enemy forces were blockaded in the Panjsher valley adding “The Islamic Emirate is trying to resolve the problems peacefully”.

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