The Afghan National Resistance Front (NRF) denied the Taliban’s claim of “complete conquest” of the vast Panshir Valley, telling NewsMadura today: “The road in the Panjshir Valley is with the Taliban. However, the fighting continues in the sub-valleys.”
Here are the top 10 updates on this story
The Panjshir battles are the most prominent example of resistance against the Taliban. Since the fall of Kabul on August 15, the Panjshir Valley has remained a resistance zone where forces led by former Vice President Amrullah Saleh and Ahmad Massoud, the son of former Afghan guerrilla commander Ahmad Shah Massoud, fight the Taliban.
Taliban officials previously claimed that their forces had gained full control of Panjshir, but fighting continued for days. Social media photos on Monday showed Taliban members standing in front of the gate of the Panjshir provincial governor’s property.
The National Resistance Front said it was present in “strategic positions” across the valley, adding that “the fight against the Taliban and their partners will continue”.
On Sunday, Ahmad Massoud had said he was willing to stop fighting and start negotiations if the Taliban left the province. He also said hundreds of Taliban fighters had surrendered to the resistance.
Panjshir, a rugged mountainous valley north of Kabul littered with the wreckage of destroyed Soviet tanks, proved very difficult to overcome in the past. Surrounded by the towering Hindu Kush mountains, Panjshir Valley has a single narrow entrance.
Local fighters there stopped the Soviets in the 1980s and the Taliban led by Massoud ten years later. Despite the geographic advantage, experts doubt the resistance could succeed in the long run.
Ahmad Massoud’s father, Ahmad Shah Massoud, known as the Lion of Panjshir, led the resistance against the Soviet military and the previous Taliban government that was ousted by US forces.
When the Taliban came to power in 1996, Ahmad Shah Massoud formed the Northern Alliance with other anti-Taliban commanders and held out in the Panjshir Valley and neighboring provinces.
India supported the Northern Alliance with weapons, medical and other aid. The relationship between India and the Northern Alliance was one of close cooperation.
India has donated or transferred a number of helicopters to Afghanistan in the past, including attack helicopters. It is believed that this aid began long before the defeat of the Taliban 20 years ago.