After intense clashes between the Taliban and the National Resistance Front (NRF) broke out in the contested valley over the last several days, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid claimed Monday that the group had seized full control of Panjshir province.
However, resistance forces in Panjshir denied the allegation, claiming that rumors of the Taliban seizing full control of the restive region were false.
“NRF forces are stationed at all key positions on the valley to continue the battle,” said the resistance forces. “The struggle for justice, freedom will continue against the Taliban and their partners.”
The final anti-Taliban troops in Afghanistan have admitted significant combat defeats and asked for a ceasefire, according to AFP, as the senior US diplomat traveled to Qatar to attempt to deal with the chaotic aftermath of the US departure.
The Taliban are attempting to crush the soldiers defending the steep Panjshir Valley, after their lightning-fast defeat of Afghanistan’s army last month — and celebrations Monday when the last US troops flew out after 20 years of war.
The NRF proposed in a statement “that the Taliban stop its military operations in Panjshir… and withdraw its forces.
“In return, we will direct our forces to refrain from military action.”
Local fighters loyal to Ahmad Massoud — the son of the famous anti-Soviet and anti-Taliban commander Ahmad Shah Massoud — as well as Afghan military remnants that fled to the Panjshir Valley make up the NRF.
Separately, the organization claimed in a tweet on Sunday that the recent battle had killed spokesperson Fahim Dashty, a well-known Afghan journalist, and General Abdul Wudod Zara.
The NRF has stated that it will fight the Taliban, but that it is also ready to talk with them. However, the first encounter did not result in a breakthrough.
The Panjshir Valley is known for its resistance against Soviet troops in the 1980s and the Taliban in the late 1990s, but experts say the NRF is having difficulties.
While there is still a “fog of war” — with unconfirmed reports the Taliban has taken control of several districts — Bill Roggio, managing editor of the US-based Long War Journal, warned Sunday that “it looks bad.”
Former Vice-President Amrullah Saleh, who is holed up in Panjshir with Ahmad Massoud, has warned of a humanitarian crisis, claiming that the Taliban’s onslaught has displaced thousands.