The Taliban group is facing massing forces in and across Panjshir province, and the only remains to fall under the control of militants. Moreover, the Taliban announced on Monday that it seized three major districts of Panjshir Valley. The Panjshir Valley, around ninety-three miles north of Kabul, is the Afghan guerrilla fighting’s epicenter.
The landscape of the Panjshir Valley plays a key role in its defensive success. Before the Afghan takeover of the Taliban, leaders of Panjshir Province urged the Afghan government in Kabul to grant them more sovereignty. In addition, most of the population of the valley are traditional Tajiks, whereas the Taliban are mainly Pashtuns.
BREAKING!!! A sole province in Afghanistan is resisting and holding-out against Taliban rule! The Afghan province of Panjshir, north of Kabul, is a stronghold against the Taliban and is home to the self-proclaimed “acting president” of Afghanistan, Amrullah Saleh. pic.twitter.com/xTwNJP7MOm
— The NOLA Tabloid (@thenolatabloid) August 21, 2021
What is Northern Alliance?
After the removal of the Soviets from Afghanistan in 1989, several groups of mujahedeen – or Islamic warriors – split into factions, fighting for control of Afghanistan. After the current chaos, Massoud formed the Northern Alliance, an alliance of Tajik and Uzbek forces. For the moment, his forces occupied Kabul, but the international community accused them of human rights abuses.
Taliban captured most of Afghanistan in 1996. However, under the leadership of Massoud, the Northern Alliance managed to keep the Panjshir Valley free of the grip from the militants all over its five-year rule. Recognized as the Lion of Panjshir, Massoud led anti-Taliban aggression until al Qaeda operatives assassinated him two days before the 11th September 2001 attacks.
Peter Bergen, the national security analyst of CNN, called the incident the ‘curtain-raiser for the attacks on Washington DC and New York that followed.’ Furthermore, Ahmad Massoud, the son of Massoud, is now leading the alliance, and he vowed to continue the war against the Taliban in the aftermath of their immediate seizure of Afghanistan.
Last week, Massoud requested the Western forces for help in that fight, saying that Afghan military members, including members from elite Special Forces units, railed to the cause. Amrullah Saleh, the former Afghan Vice President, fled to Panjshir after Kabul fell to the Taliban. However, the playing field changed instantly, with the hilly area north of the capital now penetrated by Taliban forces, who blocked crucial supply lines to the region.
Will Taliban Capture Panjshir?
Taliban forces claimed on Monday to capture three areas of the Panjshir Valley from the Northern Alliance. Additionally, Zabiullah Mujahid, the spokesperson of the Taliban, tweeted that the districts of De Salah, Bel Hisar, and Banu were completely clear from evil. The Taliban moved reinforcements into the region at the weekend, calling on the leader of the Northern Alliance to surrender.
Zubihullah said that Baghlan, Takhar, and the Mujahideen of Badakhshan states are now stationed at the gate of Panjshir. Moreover, he denied the claim of Saleh that they block the strategic Salang Pass by adding that it was open and that the rival is under cordon in the state. On the other hand, Suhail Shaheen, the spokesman of the Taliban, said that capturing Panjshir forcibly will be the last choice as that is against the group’s policies.
A spokesman for Massoud’s National Resistance Front (NRF) stated that they believe that a regionalized government was the only solution. He adds that they are in favor of peace – but peace doesn’t mean surrendering to the demands of enemies and a force to dominate the country’s politics. He added that the NRF believes the risk of international terrorism is growing and will once again threaten United States soil and interests.