Taliban fighters are moving towards the Panjshir Valley, which is among the few areas in Afghanistan not yet under the hardline group’s control.
“Hundreds of Mujahideen of the Islamic Emirate are heading towards the state of Panjshir to control it, after local state officials refused to hand it over peacefully,” the group tweeted from its Arabic account on Sunday. The group shared a video showing vehicles bearing the Taliban flag moving along a road.
The Taliban seized control of Afghanistan last Sunday, entering the presidential palace in capital Kabul and ending its insurgent offensive that had ripped through the country in 10 days. The group made swift advances and captured key Afghan cities as foreign troops prepared to withdraw from the country by the end of August.
However, Panjshir, an anti-Taliban holdout, continues to be led by Ahmad Massoud, Reuters reported. He is the son of Ahmad Shah Massoud, a prominent leader of Afghanistan’s resistance against Soviet control in the 1980s.
Massoud has assembled resistance forces in Panjshir. The forces are comprised of the remainder of Afghanistan’s special forces and army units as well as some local fighters, according to Reuters.
Massoud said he wanted a dialogue with the Taliban but his forces were ready to fight them. “We want to make the Taliban realise that the only way forward is through negotiation,” he was quoted as saying by Reuters. “We do not want a war to break out.”
The Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan has triggered a humanitarian and diplomatic crisis. Distressing visuals have emerged from the Kabul airport as thousands try to flee the conflict-torn country. There have been stampedes and firing.
Western troops are scrambling to evacuate civilians as well as diplomats. At least 20 people died in the chaos at the airport over the last week.