Wednesday, August 17

Taliban surround Panshir, last stronghold of resistance in Afghanistan

In the Panshir Valley, north of Kabul in the Hindu Kush region, a group of fighters and politicians continue to resist the control of the Taliban from the last part of the country where, for now, the extremist group has not done. with power.

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The region was a focus of resistance for decades, first against Soviet soldiers in the 1980s and then against the Taliban in the 1990s. It is now practically the only one of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces that has not fallen into the hands of the Taliban, despite the rapid advance that led the insurgents to culminate their offensive a week ago with the capture of Kabul.

Since then, thousands of people have flocked to Panshir to join the fight and flee from the Taliban, Ali Maisam Nazary, a spokesman for the resistance, told AFP. Nazary claimed that a combat force of about 9,000 people is already concentrated in the region. Images captured by the French agency’s cameras show children carrying rifles and waving the Afghan flag in the valley.

However, the outcome in this region could be precipitated. Taliban fighters have the enemy “besieged inside Panshir,” according to what the main Taliban spokesman, Zabihulla Mujahid, reported in a message on Twitter this Monday.

According to the Islamists, the Taliban leaders would be negotiating a surrender or the seizure by force of the province, where hundreds of soldiers and local guerrillas remain entrenched.

The Taliban have positioned themselves at the approaches of the mountainous region, a natural fortress, from the provinces of Takhar and Badakhshan, and the town of Andarab, in the province of Baghlan.

The heirs of the Lion of Panjshir

The region, a mountainous valley north of Kabul, is defended by hundreds of soldiers from the Afghan forces who took refuge there during the fall of the rest of Afghanistan and the overthrow of the government of Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, who fled the country.

Panjshir is also the base of the “Northern Alliance” front, a guerrilla formation of “warlords” that was led by the charismatic guerrilla Ahmad Shah Massoud, known as the “Lion of Panshir”, who have resisted and protected the region for decades.

Now, the son of the late “Lion of Panshir”, the young Ahmad Massoud, has presented himself as the leader of this movement that resists, along with hundreds of soldiers, the offensive of the Taliban.

Ahmad Massoud has made public on several occasions in recent days his willingness to negotiate with the Taliban.

“We are ready to speak with the Taliban, we already have contacts with the movement, our joint representatives have met several times,” Ahmad Massoud said in an interview published on Sunday by the Qatari daily Al-Sharq.

What is unacceptable for the son of the “Lion of Panshir” is the formation of “an extremist government” of the Taliban, according to the newspaper.

The main objective of the National Resistance Front is to prevent further bloodshed in Afghanistan and to press for a new system of government.

“The conditions for a peace agreement with the Taliban is the creation of a government that guarantees social justice, equality, rights and freedom for all,” Nazary told AFP, adding that the resistance is also prepared for the combat and that if the Taliban do not negotiate, they will face resistance across the country.

Also in Panshir is Amrullah Saleh, former First Vice President of the Afghan Government, now self-proclaimed interim president after Ghani’s flight and the biggest promoter of the resistance.

Saleh is the highest-ranking official of the deposed government who is still in Afghanistan, claiming the legitimacy of his government, which by constitution establishes that in the absence of the head of state, it is up to him to assume power.

Saleh had previously confirmed the presence of the insurgents “near the entrance to Panshir”, and assured on Twitter that one of the main access roads is under the control of the resistance.

“There are roads to be avoided, see you,” concluded the also member of the Northern Alliance and a fervent follower of the “Lion of Panshir”, alluding to the insurgents and their past failures when trying to take the valley.