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Celebratory gunfire has erupted over Kabul amid reports that the Taliban has defeated the Panjshir Valley ‘resistance’. There were different reports as to the occasion with RT’s senior correspondent Murad Gazdiev hearing both talk of victory in Panjshir and the arrival of the Taliban’s leader. Panjshir Valley, located north of Kabul and made into a separate province by the US-backed Afghan government after the Taliban was ousted in 2001, controls a key strategic road to eastern Afghanistan. On Thursday, the Taliban claimed to have captured key positions along the main road inside the valley, including a dozen checkpoints. Amrullah Saleh, who served as vice president in the US-backed government and now styles himself the rightful president of Afghanistan, sent out a statement on Friday that he was still in the valley and that the resistance was still fighting, denying rumors from Kabul that Panjshir had fallen – but said the situation was difficult and that they were under attack from the Taliban, Pakistani troops and Al-Qaeda – Taliban celebrate Panjshir province victory, resulting in full control of Afghanistan (Daily Times)
A militia leading the resistance against the Taliban’s encroachment in the Panjshir Valley consists not only of local fighters and remnants of the Afghan military but also Tajik citizens who have crossed the border to join the struggle. A recent open letter addressed to President Emomali Rahmon of Tajikistan from a group of townspeople from Kulob, Tajikistan, a southern Tajikistani town about thirty miles from the border with Afghanistan, requested permission to join the anti-Taliban militia forces fighting in the Panjshir Valley. Officials stress that the only way Tajikistani citizens will legally be allowed to fight is if the Afghan government officially asks Tajikistan to send troops to the Panjshir Valley. President Rahmon stated that Tajikistan would not recognize a Taliban government that does not include representatives from minority groups, drawing specific attention to Afghanistan’s Tajik population. The Taliban has attempted to quell the worries of Tajikistan and the other Central Asian countries that border Afghanistan-Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan-by stating that the Taliban has no intent to allow for cross-border conflict as a result of its return to power – Will Tajikistan Join the Panjshir Valley’s Fight Against the Taliban? (The National Interest)
According to the source, the Taliban tried to break into Panjshir from the West through the Andarab Valley and the Puli Hisar area, as well as from the south through the Gulbahar area on Thursday and in the early hours of Friday. “They failed on both directions and had to retreat after suffering heavy losses,” the source pointed out, adding that numerous Taliban fighters had been captured, TASS reported. “The situation around the besieged Panjshir Valley is stable at the moment,” the source noted. He also denied the Taliban’s claims that they had seized several districts and four checkpoints in the Panjshir province and that 31 members of the resistance forces had been killed. According to him, about 350 Taliban members were killed in clashes in the past two days and another 35 were captured – Taliban suffer losses in Panjshir, retreat in several paths (Mehr News Agency – Politics)
The Taliban are due to form a government within days despite fighting in Afghanistan’s Panjshir Valley where forces battling the hardline Islamists say they are enduring “heavy” assaults. Three Taliban sources said the Islamist militia had on Friday seized the Panjshir valley north of Kabul, the last province of Afghanistan holding out against it, although a resistance leader denied it had fallen. On Friday, celebratory gunfire rang out across Kabul as rumours spread the valley had fallen, but the Taliban made no official claim and a resident told AFP by phone the reports were false. “We have held the ground, we have resisted.” Fighters from the National Resistance Front – made up of anti-Taliban militia and former Afghan security forces – are understood to have significant weapon stockpiles in the valley, which lies around 80 kilometres north of Kabul. Pro-Taliban Twitter accounts aired video clips purporting to show the new regime’s fighters had captured tanks and other heavy military equipment inside the valley – Afghanistan: Rebels in Panjshir face ‘heavy’ assaults in last holdout against Taliban (The Telegraph – World)
Summarised by SMMRY.