Taliban capture Panjshir, seeking complete control of Afghanistan
ISLAMABAD: The Taliban on Monday announced a complete victory in Afghanistan by capturing the Panjsher valley.
Chief spokesman for Taliban Zabihullah Mujahid has said that with this victory, Afghanistan was completely taken out of the quagmire of war.
Pictures and videos on social media showed Taliban fighters in front of the gate of the provincial governor’s compound raising their flag. Resistance fighters have claimed they were still present in “all strategic positions” and “continue to fight”.
“The Taliban haven’t captured Panjshir, I am rejecting Taliban claims,” Ali Maisam, spokesman for the National Resistance Front of Afghanistan (NRF), told BBC.
Panjshir province, a rugged mountain valley, is home to between 150,000 and 200,000 people. It was a centre of resistance when Afghanistan was under Soviet occupation in the 1980s and during the Taliban’s previous period of rule between 1996 and 2001.
Earlier, deputy head of the Taliban’s Cultural Commission had also claimed that the Taliban forces had captured all districts of Panjshir.
“The Mujahideen of the Islamic Emirate are actively present in all areas and districts of Panjshir. All the areas are under their control. They only faced resistance in Bazarak, the center of Panjshir,” Ahmadullah Wasiq was reported, as saying by TOLO News.
After failed talks, there was an intense fight going on between the Taliban and the National Resistance Force (NRF) led by Ahmad Massoud soon after the fall of Kabul at the hands of the Taliban on August 15.
On Sunday evening, spokesman for NRF Fahim Dashti and a commander, Gen Abdul Wudod Zara, had been killed in the fight with the Taliban, while a prominent Taliban general and a dozen bodyguards had also died.
The leader of the Afghan resistance group in the [Panjshir] valley had said he was open to entering peace talks.
Ahmad Massoud had said that he supports a plan, put forward by the religious clerics, for a negotiated settlement and urged the Taliban to end their offensive in the valley. In a post on Facebook, Massoud said the National Resistance Front of Afghanistan, which includes former Afghan security force members and local militias, would be prepared to stop fighting if the Taliban ceased their attacks.
After the capture of Panjsher valley, it is expected that the Taliban may announce the formation of their new government this week.
Sources said the Taliban have almost finalised the names of their leaders for various offices and they may announce those during the ongoing week.
Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is due to reach Qatar on Monday to hold talks with the Qatari leadership after the fall of Kabul at the hands of the Taliban.
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