Panjshir valley is about to fall. The Taliban have released a video at the front of Panjshir province governorate, indicating that Ahmad Massoud’s National Resistance Front (NFR) forces were driven out of Bazarak, the provincial capital.
“By the grace of Almighty God and with the support of the nation, the final efforts for the complete securing of the country have borne fruit and we have captured the entire province of Panjshir,” proclaimed a Taliban spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid.
The Taliban raised the flag of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan on the Panjshir Governorate building and proclaimed their absolute rule over the Valley. Although they had falsely proclaimed control over the Valley, their presence in front of the Bazarak Governorate building seems to verify their claims.
Massoud’s whereabouts are unknown, but an NRF spokesman, Ali Nazari, said, “My leader and brother, Ahmad Massoud, is safe and will give a message to the people soon.” The NRF has said it is false that the Taliban have captured the entire Valley and the bulk of their forces are still positioned at strategic points.
If the capture of the Panjshir Valley is completed, the Taliban would be facing a historic moment, as this bastion of resistance repulsed both Soviet and Taliban offensives for decades.
The Panjshir Valley was used as the operational space of Massoud’s father, also known as the “lion of Panjshir,” Ahmed Shah Massoud. The iconic leader of the Northern Alliance managed to command the anti-Taliban coalition until, two days before the 9/11 attack, a bomb camouflaged in the camera of a “journalist” sent by Al-Qaeda, ended his life.
The Panjshir Valley is about to fall, so the NRF has resolved to continue negotiations with the Taliban.
According to Massoud Jr., more than 6,000 fighters were massed in Panjshir to resist the Taliban, however, they required Western support to resist the Taliban advance that has already reached at least as far as Bazarak.
The NFR has had negotiations with the Taliban, and although a ceasefire was temporarily agreed, it lasted only a few days, until the Taliban decided to resume their offensive in the Panjshir Valley.
The fighting has been particularly fierce, with the NFR claiming to have killed over 55 Taliban in their most recent offensive, but it appears that with the capture of Bazarak the NFR has had to give ground.
The fighting has already left important figures from both sides dead, such as Taliban commander Maulvi Fassihuddin, who was killed fighting in the Panjshir Valley. The NFR, on the other hand, lost a key resistance commander during the same fighting, Saleh Mohammed. The Taliban also killed Fahim Dashti, a resistance spokesman and former advisor to Massoud senior, in the midst of the fighting.
Massoud on Sunday in a statement on social media called for a ceasefire and resumption of negotiations with the Taliban: “The NRF in principle agree to solve the current problems and put an immediate end to the fighting and continue negotiations.”
“To reach a lasting peace, the NRF is ready to stop fighting on condition that Taliban also stop their attacks and military movements on Panjshir and Andarab,” Massoud said in the same statement.