Last holdouts in Afghanistan battle Taliban in Panjshir Valley

The last holdouts are still fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan.

The National Resistance Front of Afghanistan on Saturday battled Taliban forces in the Panjshir Valley, about 50 miles northeast of Kabul, according to reports.

Panjshir is the last province in Afghanistan holding out against the Islamist group. The resistance has gathered thousands of fighters from regional militias and remnants of the old government’s forces to defend the region, Reuters reported.

The valley held out for a decade against the Soviet Union’s occupation in the 1980s and also the Taliban’s first rule from 1996-2001.

Rumors spread Friday that the Taliban had taken the valley, but militia forces denied they had fallen.

Former Afghan vice-president, Amrullah Saleh, one of the leaders of the opposition forces, told the BBC he is in the Panjshir Valley, and his side has not given up.

A truck with National Resistance Front markings is seen on a mountain top near Panjshir Valley, Afghanistan.
A truck with National Resistance Front markings is seen on a mountain top near Panjshir Valley, Afghanistan.

“There is no doubt we are in a difficult situation. We are under invasion by the Taliban,” he said in a video clip from Friday posted to Twitter by BBC World journalist Yalda Hakim. “We have held the ground, we have resisted.

“The resistance is not going to bow to terrorism,” Saleh said.

The National Resistance Front said Taliban forces reached the border of Panjshir but were pushed back.

A resistance spokesman tweeted that the Taliban were “crushed by the forces of the National Resistance and fled.”

“They could not advance with all their might, and their casualties are high,” Front spokesman Fahim Dashti said in a tweet Saturday. “The defense of the stronghold of Afghanistan is unbreakable,” he said in another.

A Taliban source told Reuters fighting was continuing in Panjshir, with their advance slowed by landmines. “Demining and offensives are both going on at the same time,” the source said.

It was not immediately possible to get independent confirmation of events in Panjshir, the outlet noted. The region is walled off by mountains with only one narrow entrance.

The Taliban have so far not publicly claimed to have taken the valley, where resistance fighters are believed to have amassed significant stockpiles of weapons, the Guardian reported.