Taliban claims complete control of Afghanistan’s Panjshir

The Taliban claims it is now in complete control of the Afghan province of Panjshir, the last pocket of resistance to its rule. There’s been heavy fighting in the valley which is north of the capital Kabul, with the National Resistance Front of Afghanistan (NRF) resisting Taliban rule. Pictures on social media on Monday showed Taliban members standing in front of the gate of the Panjshir provincial governor’s compound.

“With this victory, our country is completely taken out of the quagmire of war,” a Taliban spokesman said. However, the NRF have denied this. “It is not true, the Taliban haven’t captured Panjshir I am rejecting Taliban claims,” NRF spokesman Ali Maisam told the BBC. The NRF includes local fighters loyal to Massoud, the son of the famous anti-Soviet and anti-Taliban commander Ahmad Shah Massoud, as well as remnants of the Afghan military that retreated to the Panjshir Valley. Earlier on Monday, the last anti-Taliban forces in Afghanistan acknowledged suffering considerable battlefield losses and called for a ceasefire, as a top United States diplomat flew to Qatar to try and handle the chaotic aftermath of the US withdrawal. The NRF proposed in a statement “that the Taliban stop its military operations in Panjshir … and withdraw its forces”. “In return, we will direct our forces to refrain from military action,” said the statement, according to a report by the AFP news agency.

Panjshir, a rugged mountain valley, is home to between 150,000 and 200,000 people. It was a centre of resistance when Afghanistan was under Soviet occupation in the 1980s and during the Taliban’s previous period of rule, between 1996 and 2001. The Islamist group took control of the rest of Afghanistan three weeks ago, taking power in Kabul on August 15 following the collapse of the Western-backed government.