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Friday, September 24, 2021

Afghanistan. Taliban opponents say they have occupied three districts near the Panjsher Valley

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Taliban forces in northern Afghanistan say they have seized three districts near the Panjsher Valley, where remnants of government forces and other militias have accumulated. Ahmad Masud, son of the famous mujahideen commander Ahmad Shah Masud, announced that fighting against the Taliban would continue from Panjsher. Emerging resistance movements, as well as anti-Taliban protests in some cities in the country, could pose problems for militants wishing to formalize their rule in Afghanistan, according to Reuters.

Such information was provided on Twitter by General Bismillah Khan Mohammadi, who was the minister of defense in the Afghan government overthrown by the Taliban. As he informed, the districts of Dih Salah, Bano and Puli Hisar in the province of Baghlan north of Panjsher are concerned. It is unclear what forces were involved in the fighting, but as Reuters writes, this is a sign of continued scattered opposition to the Taliban who took power after a swift campaign when they took over all of Afghanistan’s major cities in a week.

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Local TV station Tolo News quoted a local police chief who said the Bano District of Baghlan Province was under the control of the local militia and that numerous casualties were lost in the fighting.

The Taliban did not respond to this incident.

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Member of the shattered government forces in Herat prior to the Taliban takeoverJALIL REZAYEE / EPA / PAP

They announce a fight against the Taliban

Former Afghan vice president Amrullah Saleh and Ahmad Masud, son of the famous mujahideen commander Ahmad Shah Masud, have announced that from Panjsher, which resisted both Soviet and Taliban forces in the 1980s and 1990s, they would continue their fight against the Taliban. According to Reuters, people close to Masud say that more than 6,000 fighters have gathered in the valley, including members of the army and special forces, as well as local militia. They are to have several helicopters and military vehicles, and a number of repaired armored vehicles left behind by Soviet forces years ago.

Ahmad Masud, son of the mujahideen leader, announces a fight against the Taliban

Ahmad Masud, son of the mujahideen leader, announces a fight against the TalibanMOHAMMAD ISMAIL / Reuters / Forum

The Taliban has not yet attempted to enter Panjsher, which is still dotted with the wreckage of Soviet armored vehicles destroyed in combat more than 30 years ago. But Western diplomats and other experts have expressed skepticism about the ability of the groups assembled there to fight back effectively, given the lack of outside support and the need to repair and maintain military equipment.

However, as Reuters points out, both this resistance point and the anti-Taliban protests in Kabul and other cities in eastern Afghanistan indicate problems that the Taliban will face as they consolidate their regained power.

Main photo source: JALIL REZAYEE / EPA / PAP



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