THE Taliban says it has seized four check posts and captured four hills in the Panjshir valley, while reiterating that negotiations are still a priority instead of war.
After peace talks between both sides failed on Monday, Taliban leader and Deputy Head of the Military Commission Qari Fasihuddin launched the attack against local allied forces, giving resistance to the new government led by Ahmed Masood, the son of the late Afghan leader Ahmad Shah Masood.
The senior Masood was murdered by Al Aaida two days before the 9/11 attack in the United States and his son is now leading the northern alliance resistance against the Taliban.
“We have conquered 34 provinces in 11 days, Panjshir is not even an 11-hour job. We want the issue of Panjshir to be resolved through dialogue instead of war,” the Taliban said in a statement.
In the early hours of Sunday, the Taliban issued a four-hour ultimatum to the resistance group to surrender and accept amnesty, but Masood said he was ‘ready to follow’ his father’s footsteps and launch a resistance from Panjshir against the Taliban.
In an opinion piece for The Washington Post, Massoud wrote, “I write from the Panjshir Valley today, ready to follow in my father’s footsteps, with mujahideen fighters who are prepared to once again take on the Taliban. We have stores of ammunition and arms that we have patiently collected since my father’s time, because we knew this day might come.”
He acknowledged that “our military forces and logistics will not be sufficient. They will be rapidly depleted unless our friends in the West can find a way to supply us without delay,” but asserted that he and his ‘mujahideen fighters’ would keep the fight alive and defend Panjshir as the last bastion of Afghan freedom.
About 6, 000 Taliban fighters attacked Panjshir through multiple fronts from Parwan, Nuristan and Baghlan, on Monday. The Taliban said their fighters were ambushed in Jabal Siraj on their way to Panjshir with several killed and wounded.
The Taliban also released more than 200 prisoners held in Kandahar under the previous government. Prisoners are being released from various jails across the country on the instructions of Taliban leader Amir Mulla Hebatullah.
Two days ago, 350 political prisoners were released from Helmand prison, following the release of 340 prisoners on Saturday from Farah province in Western Afghanistan and 40 inmates from central Uruzgan province.
In another development, the Taliban has announced a newly established military unit – Fateh Force Unit – only few days after unveiling its special Badri313 Force brigade.
The group has also decided not to announce a new government until US and coalition forces leave the country and warned of ‘consequences’ if the US and allies extended their presence in Afghanistan beyond August 31, as thousands of people still faced challenges to leave the country.
Reacting to some media publications that the country’s capital would be relocated from Kabul to Kandahar, Taliban spokesperson in Kabul Ahmadullah Wasiq, said the “rumours circulating in the media are baseless.”