Taliban forces position in three provinces north of the valley
The Taliban have closed in on the Panjshir valley, the last pocket of anti-Taliban resistance in northern Afghanistan.
Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid announced on Monday that “the enemy” had been besieged inside Panjshir. The Taliban claimed its forces had positioned themselves in three provinces north of Panjshir.
Ahmad Massoud, the son of former Mujahideen leader Ahmad Shah Massoud, and Afghanistan’s ousted First Vice President Amrullah Saleh have declared war against the Taliban using Panjshir valley as their holdout. Ahmad Massoud has reportedly amassed small weapons, ammunition, artillery, and tanks in the valley. His forces have also been equipped with a few military helicopters.
On Friday, the anti-Taliban forces claimed their first victory by capturing three districts near Panjshir. However, Zabihullah Mujahid announced on Monday that the Taliban had retaken Bano, Deh Saleh, Pul-e-Hesar, and Andrab in Baghlan. Andrab is a key Baghlan district next to Panjshir and could play a critical role if Panjshir is attacked.
In a tweet, Mujahid said Taliban forces had established control in Badakhshan, Takhar, and Andarab near the Panjshir valley.
However, reports suggest, the Taliban were not planning to advance into the valley and were likely to continue the siege.
Panjshir Valley is a mountainous region north of the Afghan capital Kabul. Under Ahmad Shah Massoud, it resisted the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. The previous Taliban government, too, was unable to take over the valley throughout its rule from 1996 to 2001.
After Afghan President Ashraf Ghani fled to the United Arab Emirate, Amruallah Saleh proclaimed himself acting Afghan president and declared that he will resist the Taliban.
Before announcing the gains near Panjshir, the Taliban had said that hundreds of their fighters were moving towards Panjshir ” to control it after local state officials refused to hand it over peacefully.”
Saleh confirmed the presence of Taliban fighter near Panjhsir in a tweet.
Taliban “have massed forces near the entrance of Panjshir a day after they got trapped in ambush zones of neighboring Andarab valley & hardly went out in one piece. Meanwhile Salang highway is closed by the forces of the Resistance. ‘There are terrains to be avoided’. See you,” he said.
Talibs have massed forces near the entrance of Panjshir a day after they got trapped in ambush zones of neighboring Andarab valley & hardly went out in one piece. Meanwhile Salang highway is closed by the forces of the Resistance. “There are terrains to be avoided”. See you.— Amrullah Saleh (@AmrullahSaleh2) August 22, 2021
The Taliban statement suggesting they wanted to “control the city” offers no hint about their strategy. However, reports suggest they were likely to force Ahmad Massoud’s men into surrender by a prolonged siege.
There is a possibility and, some unconfirmed reports, that Tajikistan could supply Massoud forced through airdrops.