There are conflicting reports of who controls Afghanistan’s Panjshir province, the last remaining holdout of resistance to the Taliban takeover of the war-torn country.
While the Taliban have claimed victory, with a spokesman saying they had “completely conquered” the region after two weeks of intense fighting, the National Resistance Front in Afghanistan (NRF), the anti-Taliban group that has led the fight, denied the claim, according to CNN. Their spokesman, Ali Nazary, told CNN that “The resistance is still all over the valley.” NRF leader Ahmad Massoud, the son of the anti-Taliban fighter Ahmad Shah Massoud who was killed shortly before the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the U.S., said Monday that “in no way military pressure on us and our territory will lessen our resolve to continue our fight.”
Massoud said in a Facebook post on Sunday that he was ready to talk once the Taliban withdraws troops from Panjshir and a neighboring district, provided there is an end to the fighting.
But The Associated Press is reporting that thousands of Taliban fighters took control overnight of eight districts of Panjshir province, which is the only one of 34 provinces in the country that the Taliban have not controlled since they swept through the country last month in less than a week, finally taking control of the capital city of Kabul.
“We tried our best to solve the problem through negotiations, and they rejected talks and then we had to send our forces to fight,” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told a press conference in Kabul on Monday.
The Panjshir Valley is in the vast Hindu Kush mountains, aided by the fact that there is only one narrow entrance to the region. This is the same region that resistance fighters held off the Soviets in the 1980s, according to the AP, and briefly held off the Taliban in the nineties under the leadership of Massoud.