Resistance fighters have reportedly killed dozens of Taliban fighters as the militant group launches an attack on their mountain stronghold.
It has been reported that heavy fighting has taken place on the last bank of Panjshir valley.
Amir Khan Muttaqi, a senior Taliban official, said this morning that talks with the resistance were over – but he continued to demand surrender so that he could join the “Islamic Emirate”.
There have been reports of casualties on both sides, but a series of attacks on the seemingly impregnable fortress have reported dozens of possible fighters killed.
The valley, just 80 miles north of Kabul, is considered a natural fortress that has never been conquered because of its mountainous terrain and narrow roads – fighting the Soviets in the 1980s and the Taliban in the 1990s. ۔
The narrow valley is still littered with the remains of armored vehicles – echoes of failed Russian-launched attacks.
Thousands of anti-Taliban fighters have gathered in the 1,400-square-mile stronghold – and have become known as “Sher Panjshir”.
And they are now one of the ultimate pockets of organized resistance as the group fled to power after the US withdrawal.
They have raised the flag of the Northern Alliance – a group of freedom fighters who fought the Taliban when they first ruled the country from 1996 to 2001.
There are growing fears that the Taliban could launch a major offensive using their own large range of US-made weapons – including armored vehicles, attack helicopters.
Videos shared on pro-Taliban social media show an armored convoy of alleged militant fighters gathering with Black Hawk helicopters flying overhead with their distinctive white and black banners.
We feared that day would come.
But the resistance fighters are also said to have stockpiled a large weapon because they feared the day would come when they would have to take up arms in Panjshir.
The videos and photos show military vehicles and helicopters safe in a football stadium, while others show machine gun nests built around the valley waiting for the Taliban.
Fahim Fitrat, a politician affiliated with the Northern Alliance, said. France 24.“I can’t talk about military details for obvious reasons, but I can assure you that we have what we need to maintain for a long time.
“We still have a large stock of the war against the Soviet occupation and the first wave of resistance against the Taliban in the 1990s, because we feared that day would come.”
Afghan soldiers, police officers and commandos – some Western forces trained by the SAS – are all said to have reached the Panjshir Valley to take a final stand against the Taliban.
These forces allegedly brought with them weapons and vehicles they could save.
“Thousands of Mujahideen from the Panjshir area, as well as Afghan soldiers, special forces and police officers, have come to Panjshir after the Taliban took control of their cities. They brought weapons and ammunition,” Fitrat said.
He added: “There are people from all parts of Afghanistan: from Jalalabad, from Helmand, from the north to the south of the country.
“That’s why we call it national resistance, because all Afghans in Afghanistan are involved in this struggle, not just Tajiks and Panjshir.”
Taliban fighters are reportedly trying to cut off supply lines, power supplies and internet connections to the area.
Fetrat, however, insists they are well-equipped and ready to fight – to ensure they can fight the Taliban for as long as it takes.
Taliban official Muttaqi said: “My brothers, we tried our best to resolve the Panjshir issue through dialogue and negotiation … but unfortunately all in vain.
Now that the talks have failed and the Mujahideen (Taliban) have surrounded Panjshir, there are still people inside who do not want the issues to be resolved peacefully.
“Now it’s up to you to talk to them. Tell those who want to fight that that’s enough.”
Before the fall of the government last month, Afghan Defense Minister Bismillah Mohammadi said the Taliban had attacked Panjshir again on Tuesday.
“Last night, Taliban terrorists attacked Panjshir, but they were defeated,” Mohammadi tweeted on Wednesday, claiming that 34 Taliban had been killed and 65 wounded.
“Our people should not worry. They retreated with heavy casualties.”
Panjshir residents and militants, many of whom fought the Taliban when they were in power for the last time from 1996 to 2001, sent a contradictory message.
“We are ready to defend it to the last drop of our blood,” a resident told AFP.
Another said, “Everyone has a weapon on their shoulder and they are ready to fire.” “From the smallest to the largest, it’s all about resistance.”
Panjshir is of great symbolic importance to Afghanistan as it resists the invaders.
“We defended it during the Russian era, the British era, the previous Taliban era. We will continue to defend it,” said one fighter.
Ahmed Massoud, one of the NRF leaders, is the son of the late guerrilla commander Ahmed Shah Massoud, who was called the “Lion of Panjshir” for fighting against Soviet and then Taliban forces.
And Afghanistan’s self-styled president, Amrullah Saleh, who was vice president before the fall of Kabul, is also thought to be playing a role in the region.
The valley has limited access points and its geography offers a natural military advantage – defense units can use high positions to effectively target invading forces.
This week, Panjshir fighters received military training in a show of strength, with men carrying heavy logs on their shoulders and crossing deep icy rivers.
With their flags flying over their armored vehicles and at their bases, a challenge to the Taliban’s white banner now stands across the country.
Many Afghans fear repeating the Taliban’s early rule from 1996 to 2001, which was notorious for its treatment of girls and women, as well as for a brutal justice system.
The NRF has set up machine gun nests, mortars and checkpoints that are stronger than sandbags in the face of a Taliban attack.
Communication with the valley is difficult, with Taliban forces on all three sides. In recent days, the Internet has been running again and again in Panjshir.