Fighting rages as fate of Panjshir Valley hangs in balance

Taliban claim seizing the area while resistance front says they have beaten back attacks

By: News Desk      Published: 07:29 AM, 4 Sep, 2021
Fighting rages as fate of Panjshir Valley hangs in balance
Members of Resistance Front taking a break from the fighting.–TOLOnews

Clashes between Taliban forces and the resistance front were going on with both sides claiming to have caused heavy casualties to the opposing side as they locked in heavy fighting for Panjshir Vally, reported TOLOnews.

The resistance front says the Taliban’s heavy attacks on Panjshir Valley were pushed back and the Taliban forces suffered heavy casualties during the fighting.

Fahim Fetrat, a member of the resistance front, said that the Taliban forces attacked Panjshir from four directions but were unable to enter Panjshir. “Hundreds of enemy forces have been killed, wounded and arrested by the national resistance front forces. Tens of their armoured vehicles have been set on fire and they remain in the area. They have lost several areas in Gulbahar and Jabal Saraj,” Fetrat said.

The Taliban, meanwhile, denied their forces had sustained casualties and said they had advanced in Panjshir from several directions and seized the area. “The Mujahideen have made advances into Panjshir’s Paryan district from Warsaj (district) in Takhar and Kiran Wa Manjan (district) in Badakhshan and they have met there. The Mujahideen also advanced into Panjshir from the direction of Kapisa. The central areas of Panjshir’s Shotul district are still under the control of the Islamic Emirate forces,” said Anaamullah Samangani, a member of the cultural commission of the Taliban.

Meanwhile, Afghan former President Hamid Karzai in a statement on Friday urged both sides to stop fighting and to resolve their issues with dialogue. “I urge both sides to resolve the problem through negotiations so that our suffering nation can enjoy full-fledged peace and prosperity,” the statement reads.  

According to BBC, the fate of Afghanistan's Panjshir Valley - the final holdout against Taliban control - hangs in the balance as heavy fighting continued.

Taliban sources told a British news agency that they had seized the area, but the resistance fighters they are battling denied this. 

One of the resistance leaders, Amrullah Saleh, dismissed claims he had fled, but said the situation was "difficult".

The fighting in Panjshir is reported to have left hundreds dead. 

The valley, north of the capital Kabul, is one of Afghanistan's smallest provinces and the only one not to have fallen to the Taliban.

The traditional anti-Taliban stronghold is home to somewhere between 150,000 and 200,000 people, and is hidden behind mountain peaks. 

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.

In a video message sent to the BBC, Mr Saleh, a former vice-president of Afghanistan, said there had been casualties on both sides. "There is no doubt we are in a difficult situation. We are under invasion by the Taliban," he said. But he added: "We will not surrender, we are standing for Afghanistan."

He said he was sharing the video to assure people that reports suggesting that he had left the country were false. 

Ali Nazari, a spokesperson for the National Resistance Front (NRF) fighters, told BBC that the rebels had pushed the Taliban on the back foot. "There are well over a few hundred Taliban who are trapped. And they are running out of munitions and they are negotiating terms of surrender right now," he said.

But Taliban officials have been claiming victory in the area, with one commander telling: "By the grace of Allah Almighty, we are in control of the entire Afghanistan. The troublemakers have been defeated and Panjshir is now under our command."

The Taliban are now in control of the rest of the country, and are expected to announce a new government in the coming days.