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In Afghanistan, the Taliban announce an offensive against the Panchir Valley

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While the pocket of resistance in the Panchir Valley, northeast of Kabul, still eludes them, the Taliban announced on Sunday that hundreds of their fighters were moving towards this area. The National Resistance Front, led in particular by Ahmad Massoud, says it is ready to fight even if no fight has been reported for the moment.

As the air evacuations continue in a chaotic atmosphere at Kabul airport, the ruling Taliban announced on Sunday (August 22) the launch of a major offensive against the only area that still resists them, the valley of the Panchir.

“Hundreds of mujahedin in the Islamic Emirate are heading to the state of Panchir for control, after local officials have refused to hand it over peacefully,” the Taliban said on their Arabic Twitter account.

As the Taliban easily entered the Afghan capital on August 15, a pocket of resistance formed in the Panchir Valley northeast of Kabul, long known as an anti-Taliban stronghold. This National Resistance Front (FNR) is notably led by Ahmad Massoud, son of Commander Ahmed Shah Massoud, assassinated in 2001 by Al-Qaeda.

According to Reuters, a relative of Ahmad Massoud said for his part that there was no sign that Taliban vehicles had entered the valley and that no fighting had been reported.

“Bloodbath”

FNR spokesperson Ali Maisam Nazary told AFP that the Front was preparing for “a long-lasting conflict” with the Taliban. According to him, thousands of Afghans have joined the Panchir Valley to fight the new regime.

“The Taliban will not last if they continue like this. We are ready to defend Afghanistan and we warn against a bloodbath,” Ahmad Massoud told Al-Arabiya channel on Sunday.

In another interview with Reuters, he said on Sunday that he hoped a dialogue could open with the Taliban but added that the forces he led were ready to fight.

“We want to make the Taliban understand that the only way forward is negotiation,” he said. “We do not want a war to break out,” he added, indicating, however, that his fighters were prepared to fight if the Taliban tried to invade the area. “They want to resist any totalitarian regime,” Ahmad Massoud said.

Ahmad Massoud called for the formation of an inclusive government in which all of the country’s various ethnic groups would be represented, stressing that a “totalitarian regime” should not be recognized by the international community.

In 1997, Ahmed Shah Massoud, legendary warlord nicknamed “The lion of Panchir”, blew up the Salang tunnel, built during the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan (1979-1989), thus closing the door to entrance to the valley from the south. Despite many attempts, the Taliban had never succeeded in seizing the Panchir.

With AFP and Reuters

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