ISLAMABAD (September 1, 2021)— – Heavy fighting has started between Taliban fighters and anti-Taliban resistance forces based in the Panjshir valley after talks between the two sides failed to resolve their differences. A resistance spokesman claims a Taliban offensive was repulsed with the Taliban suffering heavy losses.
The resistance is led by Ahmad Masood, son of well-known anti-Taliban resistance leader from the 1990s, Ahmad Shah Masood. The elder Masood, who led the Northern Alliance against the Taliban, was killed by al-Qaida militants posing as journalists just before the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.
After the fall of Kabul last month, members of the Afghan security forces from across the country who felt betrayed by the surrender of their military leaders made their way to Panjshir to join the resistance. Among them were some of the special forces famous for their battlefield victories against the Taliban over the years as well as the first vice president in the deposed regime, Amrullah Saleh.
Masood’s spokesman, Fahim Dashty, said the Taliban were running offensive operations in the northeast of the valley, in particular from a mountain pass named Khawak, as well as from the southwest from Parwan province.
He claimed the National Resistance Front of Afghanistan (NRFA), as the Panjshir-based group calls itself, had repulsed them inflicting several hundred casualties.
“They have been defeated heavily. The figures that we already have, 150 of them have been killed, around 200 of them have been wounded, 35 of them have been detained, their four convoys have been destroyed as well as two heavy weaponry,” he claimed.
Taliban followers on social media shared video of the group traveling to Panjshir in a caravan of security vehicles with Taliban flags. They claimed the Taliban had taken over several areas previously controlled by the resistance forces.
On Wednesday the Taliban had blocked all traffic on the main road linking Panjshir to neighboring Gulbahar.
Each side blamed the other for the failure of the talks between the two sides.
“We tried very hard that this issue be resolved through talks. We held multiple meetings with the stakeholders of Panjshir. We are also in touch via telephone. However, until now, we have not reached a resolution,” said senior Taliban leader Maulawi Amir Khan Muttaqi in an audio message to the people of Panjshir province circulated by their followers and spokesmen on social media.
Dashty told VOA Tuesday night that the negotiations were intended to result in an inclusive arrangement acceptable to all Afghans, and in which there were guarantees for human rights, including women rights.
The ball is in the Taliban’s court, he said. “The other side, if they want to announce their government, an un-inclusive government, it’s up to them. It will not affect our stance.”