NewsWorldThe Taliban claim victory in Panjshir, but resistance forces...

The Taliban claim victory in Panjshir, but resistance forces say they still control a strategic position in the valley

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(CNN) – The Taliban claimed victory in Afghanistan’s Panjshir province, and a spokesman said the region had been “completely conquered” after two weeks of fierce fighting with a resistance group.

Panjshir has been the last stronghold among Afghanistan’s 34 provinces that has resisted the Taliban. If the claim is true, it would mean that the Taliban now control all of the Afghan provinces.

However, the National Resistance Front in Afghanistan (NRF), an anti-Taliban group that has been fighting the militants’ offensive in the Panjshir Valley, denied the claim, and spokesman Ali Nazary told CNN: ” Resistance is still all over the valley. “

Photos and videos shared on social media showed the Taliban’s white flag hoisted between buildings in what was said to be the center of Panjshir. CNN cannot independently verify the image.

“The last nest of the enemy, the province of Panjshir, was completely conquered … We assure the honorable people of Panjshir that they will not face any discriminatory treatment. They are all our brothers, and we will work for a country and a common goal. With recent efforts and this victory, our country is completely out of the vortex of war, “said Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid in a tweet.

Although it did not deny that the center of Panjshir had fallen into the hands of the militants, the NRF said that other areas of Panjshir remained under its control.

“Most of the Bazarak district and all the side valleys are controlled by the NRF,” Nazary said.

“The Taliban’s claim to occupy Panjshir is false. NRF forces are present in all strategic positions in the valley to continue the fight. We assure the people of Afghanistan that the fight against the Taliban and their partners will continue until justice prevails. and freedom, “said the NRF.

The victory award comes after a weekend of heavy fighting in the Panjshir Valley, with heavy casualties.

NRF leader Ahmad Massoud said in a Facebook post on Sunday that he supports clerics in the capital Kabul who have called for an end to the fighting and were ready to speak once the Taliban withdrew troops from Panjshir and the neighboring district of Andarab.

Earlier, Taliban spokesman Belal Kareemi told CNN that the group’s militant fighters had taken all the districts of Panjshir province except the capital of Bazarak and Rokha districts, which remain under the control of the NRF. But the resistance fighters appeared to refute the Taliban’s claims.

Panjshir is a strategic piece of mountainous terrain rich in precious mineral resources about 144 kilometers north of Kabul, and the only region among Afghanistan’s 34 provinces that remains outside of Taliban control.

For two weeks, the NRF, a multi-ethnic group that includes former members of the Afghan security forces and reportedly numbering in the thousands, has continued the fight against the Taliban following the almost complete takeover of Afghanistan by militants. .

NRF leader Massoud said the group agreed to certain measures “to facilitate the requirements of national peace and security in the country” and “hopes that the Taliban will respond to the clerics’ request and take practical measures.”

Anti-Taliban resistance forces participate in military training in the Malimah area of ​​Dara district in Panjshir province on September 2.

“The National Resistance Front is ready to immediately end the war to achieve a lasting peace, if the Taliban end their attacks and military operations in Panjshir and Andarab,” Massoud said.

“The National Resistance Front fully supports the call of religious scholars to lift the sentences imposed on Panjshir and hopes that the Taliban group will take this Islamic and humanitarian demand seriously and implement it,” he added.

“The National Resistance Front proposes that the Taliban stop their military operations in Panjshir, Andarab, Parwan and Kapisa and withdraw their forces from Panjshir and Andarab. In return, the National Resistance Front will order its forces to refrain from military action. “Massoud said. Parwan and Kapisa are neighboring provinces to Panjshir.

There has been no official response from the Taliban to Massoud’s proposals.

After their comments, the NRF said their spokesmen Fahim Dashty and General Abdul Wudod Zara had been killed.

“Sadly, the Afghanistan National Resistance today lost two comrades in the holy resistance against oppression and aggression,” the group tweeted. “May his memory be eternal!”

A truck bearing the markings of the National Resistance Front is seen atop a mountain near the Panjshir Valley, Afghanistan, in this still image taken from undated video.

On Sunday, Taliban spokesman Kareemi said the enemy had suffered “heavy casualties”, including among its commanders, and that the Taliban hope to “clear Panjshir as soon as possible”. Taliban fighters are currently advancing on Rokha and Bazarak, Kareemi added.

Before his death, Dashti, a spokesman for the NRF, appeared to refute the Taliban’s claims, tweeting that the Panjshir district in Paryan was “completely cleared” of the Taliban.

“At least 1,000 terrorists were trapped due to their cut-off. All of the attackers were killed, surrendered or captured by locals with the help of resistance fighters while fleeing and retreating. Many of these prisoners are foreigners and most of them are Pakistani‌, “Dashti said.

CNN has not been able to independently verify overall casualty figures in recent rounds of fighting.

The Taliban promise the safety and security of humanitarian personnel

Afghanistan: Will the Taliban Get to Power? 2:27

The United Nations said in a statement on Sunday that the Taliban authorities “promised that the safety of humanitarian personnel and humanitarian access to people in need will be guaranteed and that humanitarian workers, both men and women, will be guaranteed freedom of movement. movement”.

This comes after UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Martin Griffiths met with Taliban co-founder and deputy leader Mullah Baradar and other senior Taliban figures in Kabul to reiterate the UN’s commitment. with humanitarian aid there.

“At this meeting, Mr. Griffiths reiterated the humanitarian community’s commitment to providing impartial and independent humanitarian assistance and protection to millions of people in need,” said Stéphane Dujarric, spokesman for UN Secretary-General António Guterres, in a statement. .

The UN said Afghanistan “faces an imminent humanitarian catastrophe” fueled by conflict, drought and famine. Half of the country’s population, 18 million people, need humanitarian assistance to survive and the situation will worsen as a severe drought – the second in four years – further contributes to hunger in the coming months, according to Dujarric.

On Sunday, aid planes from Qatar and Bahrain arrived in Kabul, carrying more than 50 tons of medical aid and food products to the country. Qatar sent a plane carrying 26 tons of aid, according to a statement from the Qatari Foreign Ministry, and a plane carrying 25 tons of aid arrived from Bahrain, according to Mustafa Al Sayed, secretary general of the Royal Bahrain Humanitarian Foundation.

This is the second aid shipment to arrive at Kabul airport from Qatar since the withdrawal of US troops from the country in late August. The first shipment arrived on Saturday, with a plane carrying about 17 tons of aid, according to a statement from the Foreign Ministry.

CNN’s Jonny Hallam, Celine Alkhaldi, Radina Gigova and Lauren Said-Moorhouse contributed.

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