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Afghanistan: the Taliban announce an offensive against the Panchir Valley – teller report


RESISTANCE – Free territory in the north of the country, the Panchir valley is preparing for an attack led by “hundreds” of Islamist insurgents. The thread of Commander Massoud as well as the former vice-president are trying to form a pocket of resistance there.

A historic stronghold of resistance since the 1980s, the Panchir Valley is still the only unoccupied area in Afghanistan today, after the Taliban resumed power on Sunday August 15. But that might not last. Sunday, August 22, the Taliban announced launching a major offensive against the territory that still resists them, through their Twitter account: “Hundreds of mujahedin from the Islamic Emirate are heading to the state of Panchir for control, after local officials refuse to hand him over peacefully.”

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Afghanistan in the hands of the Taliban

Indeed, an opposition movement is trying to emerge in this valley north of Kabul under the name of the National Resistance Front (FNR) and the leadership of several figures: Ahmad Massoud, son of the legendary commander Massoud, hero of the resistance against the Soviets then the Taliban and assassinated by Al-Qaeda in 2001, and accompanied by former vice-president Amrullah Saleh, who fled to Panchir after the self-proclaimed defeat of Head of State Ashraf Ghani.

Thousands of Afghan recruits

It still seems difficult to estimate the extent of this nascent movement. According to Ali Maisam Nazary, a spokesperson for the FNR, thousands of Afghans have already joined the Panchir Valley to fight the new regime alongside Ahmad Massoud’s troops and are preparing for “a long-lasting conflict” with the Taliban. Among them are “intellectuals, women and human rights defenders”.

With the Reuters agency, Ahmad Massoud said he was ready this Sunday to start talks with the insurgents. “We want to make the Taliban understand that the only way forward is negotiation. (…) We don’t want a war to break out.” While assuring that he would not abdicate. “We are ready to defend Afghanistan and we warn against a bloodbath”, he continued on the Al-Arabiya channel, already seeing himself as his father’s faithful heir. If the Taliban did not meet strong resistance in seizing the capital and most of the provincial towns, they should oppose a refusal to cede the territory. “We Afghans haven’t even really lost a battle, since Kabul didn’t fight,” Ahmad Massoud wrote in a text that appeared in Bernard-Henri Lévy’s magazine, The Rule of Game.

Read also

  • Panchir, this territory not occupied by the Taliban where resistance is organized
  • Afghanistan: the most striking images of a week of chaos since the takeover of the Taliban

But the international community could have been a major support for these resistance fighters from the start. In the columns of Washington postAhmad Massoud demanded on August 18 that the United States supply his militia with arms and ammunition. Benefiting from new recruits, the Panchir also needs humanitarian aid, underlined the FNR spokesperson, and its fate is more than uncertain in the light of these clashes with the Taliban.

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