The Taliban says it has sent “hundreds of fighters” to the Panjshir Valley, northeast of Kabul. The valley is not in the hands of radical Islamists and provides a bulwark for groups who want to fight the Taliban. A Taliban spokesman said the troops would be sent “because local leaders refused to hand over the area peacefully”.
A spokesman for the resistance groups said thousands of people had moved into the valley since the Taliban took power. Among them are the remnants of the Afghan army. The area is surrounded by steep mountain ranges and thus is a suitable place to repel attackers. Under the Taliban in the 1990s, the group failed to capture the valley.
Ahmed Masoud, son of the famous fighter against the Taliban during the 1990s, is trying to form a resistance force from the valley. He asked the United States via the Washington Post for weapons for his rebellion. Masoud says he wants to “follow in his father’s footsteps in Panjshir”, but needs the supplies to do so. Through the local media, Massoud has already challenged the Taliban: “We are ready to defend Afghanistan and warn of bloodshed.”
It was reported that Massoud was accompanied by former Afghan Vice President Amrullah Saleh. After seizing power, Salih said he would not cooperate with the Taliban and would never acquiesce in the group. Saleh claims to be the country’s legitimate leader since the escape of former President Ashraf Ghani.
Russia’s ambassador to Afghanistan, Dmitry Chernov, said the Taliban were still willing to engage in dialogue. In an interview with Russian television on Sunday, he said the Taliban hope to find a “peaceful solution to the situation, for example through a political agreement”. Chernov said the Taliban had asked him to pass this message on to the people and defenders of the Panjshir Valley.
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