The Taliban said on Sunday that their forces had fought their way into the provincial capital of Panjshir, the valley where opposition forces have been holding out since the fall of Kabul three weeks ago.
The police headquarters and district center of Rukhah, adjacent to the provincial capital Bazarak, had fallen and opposition forces had claimed numerous casualties, with large numbers of detainees and captured vehicles, weapons and ammunition, Taliban spokesman Bilal Karimi said on Twitter.
There was fighting in Bazarak, he said. It was not possible to confirm the report, which was repeated on other Taliban twitter accounts.
Earlier on Sunday, Fahim Dashti, spokesman for the National Resistance Front of Afghanistan (NRFA), which groups opposition forces, said the Taliban’s “propaganda machine” was trying to spread distracting messages.
“The resistance forces are ready to continue their defense against any kind of aggression,” he said.
Italian aid agency Emergency said on Saturday that Taliban fighters have reached the trauma hospital it operates in the Anabah district, in the Panjshir valley.
The Taliban have said their forces had previously gained full control of Panjshir, but fighting has continued for days, with each side saying large numbers of casualties have been reported.
Ahmad Massoud, leader of the NRFA, has pledged to continue to oppose the offensive and has called for international support.
Panjshir, a rugged mountainous valley north of Kabul that is still littered with the wreckage of destroyed Soviet tanks, proved very difficult to conquer in the past. Under Massoud’s late father, Ahmad Shah Massoud, it opposed both the invading Soviet army and the previous Taliban government.
On Sunday, Massoud said hundreds of Taliban fighters had surrendered to NRFA forces, including remnants of the regular Afghan army and special forces, as well as local militias. That could not be independently confirmed.
The Panjshir fighting was the most prominent example of resistance against the Taliban, whose forces invaded Kabul on August 15 as the western-backed government collapsed and President Ashraf Ghani fled the country.
But small individual protests for women’s rights or in defense of the green, red and black tricolor flag of Afghanistan have also been held in several cities.
Massoud originally called for a negotiated settlement with the Taliban and several attempts at talks were held but ultimately failed, with both sides blaming the other for their failure.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NewsMadura staff and has been published from a syndicated feed.)