Afghanistan crisis: Taliban say they have entered the capital of Panjshir


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The Taliban said on Sunday that their forces had fought to transport them to the provincial capital of Panjshir Valley, their latest claim of progress in fighting opposition forces held in the area north of Kabul.

There was no immediate response from the National Resistance Front in Afghanistan (NRFA), which brings together opposition forces. Earlier, it was said that the Taliban “propaganda machine” was trying to spread disruptive messages and pushed the Taliban forces back from another part of the valley.

Taliban spokesman Bilal Karimi tweeted that the police headquarters and Rukhah district center, near the provincial capital of Bazarak, had fallen and opposition forces had suffered numerous casualties, with large numbers of prisoners and captured vehicles, weapons and ammunition.

The fighting, he said, is ongoing. It was not possible to confirm the report, which resonated on other Taliban accounts on Twitter.

Earlier on Sunday, NRFA spokesman Fahim Dashti said Parian district, at the northeastern tip of Panjshir, which the Taliban had previously said had taken over, had been cleared and up to 1,000 Taliban, including Pakistanis and other foreigners, were blocked and captured. This could not be confirmed independently.

“Resistance forces are ready to continue defending against any form of aggression,” Dashti said.

On Saturday, the Italian Emergency Relief Group said Taliban fighters had arrived at a trauma hospital operating in Anabah district, in the Panjshir valley.

Taliban officials said earlier that their forces had secured complete control of Panjshir, but fighting continued for days, with both sides saying it had inflicted large numbers of casualties.

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Ahmad Massoud, the leader of the NRFA, vowed to continue resisting the offensive and called for international support.

Panjshir, an uneven mountain valley north of Kabul that is still buried by the wreckage of destroyed Soviet tanks, has proved very difficult to overcome in the past. Under Massoud’s late father, Ahmad Shah Massoud, resistance was also offered to the invading Soviet army and the previous Taliban government.

Massoud said Sunday that hundreds of Taliban fighters had surrendered to NRFA forces, including remnants of the regular Afghan army and special forces units, as well as local militia fighters. It was not clear if this was a separate claim.

Fighting Panjshir was the most prominent example of resistance to the Taliban, whose forces stormed Kabul on August 15 after a 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 flags of Afghanistan were also held in various cities.

Massoud originally called for negotiations with the Taliban and several attempts were made to negotiate, but were eventually adjourned, with both sides blaming the other for their failure.

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