ANTI-TALIBAN resistance fighters loyal to local leader Ahmad Massoud claimed they have full control of the passes into their stronghold Panjshir Valley following clashes against the Taliban on Thursday, more than two weeks after the Islamist militia swept into the capital, Kabul. But the Taliban claimed they inflicted heavy casualties in the battle.
A spokesman for the National Resistance Front (NRF) comprising anti-Taliban militia fighters and former Afghan security forces said the movement had full control of all the passes and entrances into the Panjshir Valley and had driven back Taliban efforts to take Shotul district.
“The enemy made multiple attempts to enter Shotul from Jabul-Saraj, and failed each time,” he said, referring to a town in neighbouring Parwan province.
Surrounded by towering snow-capped mountains, the rugged Panjshir Valley, which begins around 80 kilometres (50 miles) north of the capital Kabul, is a stronghold of resistance after the Taliban swept into Kabul on August 15 and seized power.
But the Taliban also said it had inflicted heavy casualties on the NRF.
“We started operations after negotiation with the local armed group failed,” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said Thursday.
Since August 15, several thousand fighters from local militias and remnants of the government’s armed forces have massed in Panjshir under the leadership of Massoud, son of the Afghan resistance hero, Ahmad Shah Massoud.
Efforts to negotiate a settlement appear to have broken down, with each side blaming the other for the failure.
Anti-Taliban leader Massoud wants to talk but is ready to fight.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP and REUTERS)