The Taliban have assured this Monday that their fighters achieved the conquest of the northern province of Panjshir, the only one of the 34 Afghan regions that had not fallen into insurgent hands, which remained defended by the resistance forces. “The last stronghold of the mercenary enemy, the province of Panjshir, was completely conquered,” the main Taliban spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, said in a statement.
According to the spokesman, “Panjshir province has come under the full control of the Islamic Emirate (as the Taliban call themselves)” after intense days of fighting. “Some of the rebels in the province were defeated and the rest fled, liberating the oppressed and honorable people of Panjshir,” the text says.
Panjshir was so far the only one of the 34 Afghan provinces not under Islamist control, after the group captured the remaining 33 regions in less than two weeks, culminating the achievement with the capture of Kabul on August 15. “With this victory and last effort, the rest of the country will be completely out of the war and will have a peaceful and prosperous life in an environment of freedom, independence and prosperity,” said the spokesman.
Panjshir province had resisted, defended by the National Resistance Front, made up of local guerrillas and troops from the overthrown Afghan government who took refuge in the region during their withdrawal.
The resistance has been led by former Afghan Vice President Amrullah Saleh, the self-proclaimed new president of Afghanistan after former president Ashraf Ghani fled the country during the takeover of Kabul, and Ahmad Massoud, son of the late Afghan commander Ahmad Shah Massoud, “the lion of the Panjshir “, a legend for having stood up to the Soviets and the Taliban.
The fighting has intensified in recent days after attempts by the fundamentalists and Ahmad Massoud at dialogue to find a way out of the conflict failed. So far, neither Ahmad Massoud nor Amrullah Saleh have confirmed their surrender or the fall of the province.
Panjshir was also the center of resistance against the Islamist group during the previous Taliban regime, between 1996 and 2001, which ended with a US invasion that came to an end just this week after almost two decades of war.