Fighting intensifies over holdout Afghan valley
September 3, 2021 - Taliban and National Resistance Front (NRF) forces loyal to Ahmad Massoud are fighting on multiple fronts in Afghanistan’s Panjshir Valley – the last province resisting rule by the Islamist hardliners.
In a sign of solidarity with Massoud and the resistance in the Panjshir, Tajik President Emomali Rahmon on Thursday (August 2) awarded the country’s highest distinction to former Afghan defence minister Ahmad Shah Massoud and former Afghan president Burhanuddin Rabbani.
Massoud was known as the Lion of Panjshir and led the most vigorous resistance against the Soviet Red Army and the Taliban from his stronghold in the valley until he was assassinated by Al Qaeda two days before 9/11.
The Order of Ismoili Somoni 1st Class award to both leaders fuels speculation that Tajikistan is willing to support the resistance.
The move comes after two days of intense fighting in which the NRF forces repelled multi-pronged Taliban assaults on the Panjshir.
In an attack from Jabul-Saraj in Parwan province, videos show militants speaking Arabic and Persian suggesting that the Taliban uses Al Qaeda and foreign fighters to attack Massoud’s forces.
The Long War Journal reports that the NRF successfully stopped an assault on Khawak Pass -- a strategic road that leads into the Panjshir’s Shotul district -- on Friday.
A second assault at the Anjuman Pass in the north in Badakhshan province was also unable to break the defensive lines of the NRF.