Taliban claim conquest infamous Panjshir Valley, resistance speaks of ‘propaganda’

The last stronghold in Afghanistan of Taliban opponents, the impregnable Panjshir Valley, is under control of the fundamentalist movement, three Taliban sources say to Reuters news agency. A spokesman for the National Resistance Forces (NRF), who brace themselves in the valley, contradicts that. There are no independent observers in the mountainous region about 65 kilometres northeast of capital Kabul.

NRF spokesman Ali Nazari claims to the BBC precisely that the rebels pushed back the Taliban. He denounced the Taliban โ€œpropaganda machineโ€. According to him, the resistance movement has surrounded Taliban fighters in the northeastern part of the valley. He said there are a few hundred Taliban fighters trapped there who would be almost without ammunition and negotiate their surrender.

After the rapid conquest of the country, the Taliban had yet to face the National Resistance Forces that had braced themselves in the valley. It failed to conquer the radical Islamic movement during its previous period of power from 1996 to 2001. The Russians also failed to fight a successful battle in the 80s and suffered major losses.

Several thousand armed opponents gathered in Panjshir Province after the fall of Kabul. Both camps claimed to have caused heavy losses to their opponents in recent days. On Thursday, the Taliban claimed to have already landprofits after negotiations failed. Earlier on Friday, an NRF spokesperson said the group is defending the valley.

One of the current leaders of the NRF, Ahmad Massoud, is a son of the ‘Lion of Panjshir’ Ahmad Shah Massoud, who died in 2001. He successfully led the resistance against the Soviet army there and against the Taliban fighters in the 1990s.

The fledgling Vice President Amrullah Saleh, who considers himself acting president, has also gone to Panjshir. He has contradicted reports that he would have fled to Tajikistan.

Also listen to a new episode of the defence and international security podcast Delta Tango with Afghanistan veteran Ludy de Vos: