- A resistance movement against the Taliban is emerging across Afghanistan.
- Anti-Taliban fighters reportedly recaptured territory from the insurgents in the province of Baghlan.
- The former vice-president and the son of a mujahideen hero are also leading a resistance movement in Panjshir Valley.
Resistance fighters in Afghanistan have reportedly recaptured territory from the Taliban on Friday and killed dozens of militants as pockets of armed resistance emerge across the country.
On Friday, former Afghan government official General Bismillah Mohammadi tweeted that fighters had taken back control of three districts in the northeastern Baghlan province: Hesar Bridge, Deh Salah, and Beno.
“The resistance is alive,” he wrote on Twitter.
Videos and images from the province showed Afghan fighters removing the Taliban’s white flag and replacing it with Afghanistan’s tricolor one.
—Sarfaraz (@Sarfaraz1201) August 20, 2021
—FJ (@Natsecjeff) August 20, 2021
Conflicting reports emerged of how many Taliban casualties occurred during the offensive.
A tweet from a pro-Taliban account reportedly claimed 15 Taliban fighters were killed and 15 wounded after the insurgents had been betrayed over an offer of an amnesty to locals, as reported by The Washington Post.
“All those who committed this crime must be killed. The doors of conversation are closed,” the tweet said.
“We have ignited something that is historic in Afghanistan,” Sediqullah Shuja, 28, a former Afghan soldier who took part in Friday’s uprising told The Washington Post. “Taliban fighters had armored vehicles, but people threw stones at Taliban fighters and drove them out .”
“As long as we are alive,” he said to the paper, “we do not accept the Taliban’s rule.”
The offensive in Baghlan appears to be separate from another resistance movement emerging in Panjshir Valley in north-central Afghanistan, led by the former vice-president and the son of a mujahideen hero.
Ahmad Massoud, the son of renowned mujahideen leader Ahmad Shah Massoud, and Amrullah Saleh, the vice-president of the recently defeated Afghan government, have pledged to lead the fight against the Taliban.
Panjshir is the only one of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces to not be under Taliban control and is quickly becoming the center of the resistance movement.
Although the Panjshir Valley is surrounded by Taliban-controlled territory, its rocky terrain and natural mountainous defenses make it difficult to conquer.
In an opinion piece for The Washington Post, Massoud wrote, “I write from the Panjshir Valley today, ready to follow in my father’s footsteps, with mujahideen fighters who are prepared to once again take on the Taliban.”
Massoud’s father famously defended the valley from being taken by the Soviets during the Soviet-Afghan war of the 1980s.
The mujahideen hero, who earned the nickname “Lion of Panjshir,” also led the Northern Alliance against the Taliban until he was assassinated by al-Qaeda two days before 9/11.
Former vice-president Saleh said the senior Massoud was his hero and defiantly promised to continue resisting the Taliban.
“I will never, ever & under no circumstances bow to d Talib terrorists,” Saleh wrote on Twitter. “I won’t dis-appoint millions who listened to me. I will never be under one ceiling with Taliban. NEVER.”
—Amrullah Saleh (@AmrullahSaleh2) August 15, 2021
Videos and images also emerged on social media of the former vice-president and the junior Massoud boarding a helicopter.
—Sudhir Chaudhary (@sudhirchaudhary) August 16, 2021
Ahmad Massoud has been appearing at rallies around Panjshir, according to The Times, raising support and speaking about the obstacles facing peace talks with the Taliban.
Saleh, meanwhile, has staked a claim as caretaker president of Afghanistan, following President Ashraf Ghani fleeing the country and going into exile.
The paper reported that his claim appears to be in line with the constitution.
Saleh is a former intelligence chief who worked closely with the senior Massoud, and became a key ally to the Americans after 9/11, The Times reported.
It remains to be seen whether the resistance led by Saleh and Massoud will be successful against the Taliban.
The militants took control of the rest of Afghanistan in a sweeping offensive that culminated in the capture of Kabul on Sunday, often facing little resistance from Afghan forces.
On Wednesday 19 August, the day Afghanistan usually celebrates its independence from the British, peaceful protests against the Taliban also took place across the country, including Kabul.
Images showed Afghans, including women and children, waving their tricolour flag.
“Our flag, our identity,” they shouted, according to Reuters.
The Taliban reportedly shot at the peacefully protesting crowds, killing several people.