Taliban claim control over Panjshir Valley
September 6, 2021 - Taliban forces have fought their way into Bazarak, the provincial capital of the Panjshir Valley, the highly symbolic final region holding out against rule by the Islamist hardliners. However, the National Resistance Front (NRF) denied the region’s fall and vows to fight on.
The conflicting accounts of what was happening on Monday (September 6) were hard to verify because internet and telephone service into the region has been cut off.
During their occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980s, the Soviet Red Army advanced into the Panjshir on at least nine occasions, only to be repelled each time, sometimes after severe casualties. Thirty-eight years later, the rusting hulks of Soviet Tanks, APCs and artillery still litter the valley floor.
The Taliban never succeeded in conquering the Panjshir the last time they ruled Afghanistan, from 1996 to 2001 -- it became the launching point for the U.S.-led invasion after the 9/11, 2001, terrorist attacks on New York and the Pentagon.
The resistance group’s leader, Ahmad Massoud, is the son of Ahmad Shah Massoud. This commander was assassinated by Al Qaeda just two days before 9/11. Massoud issued an audio recording on Monday calling for the nation to rise up against the Taliban.
“I call for a national uprising for the dignity, freedom, and pride of our homeland. Anyone in any way possible can stand and raise their voice,” Massoud said in the recording.
Massoud also said NRF members surrounded “thousands of terrorists” on Khawak Pass at the weekend. The Taliban abandoned equipment in the Dashte Rewak area.
There are reports of significant losses among the resistance fighters, including the deaths of several commanders and of its spokesman, Fahim Dashti.
The mountainous region is home to around 200,000 people and has peaks between 4,000 and 5,000 metres.
- National Resistance Front repels multi-day Taliban assault on Panjshir (Long War Journal)
- Taliban Claim Control Over Panjshir Valley, but Resistance Vows to Fight On (New York Times)
- Taliban battle for holdout province of Panjshir as US warns of Afghan civil war (AFP)
- Taliban could hand over the Bagram airbase to China (Daily Pioneer)