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Massoud led forces step up fighting against Taliban in Panjshir to force inclusive government in Afghanistan

Ahmad Shah Massoud Former Minister of Defense of Afghanistan

Contrary to the Taliban’s claim that there is no fighting in Panjshir valley, fierce fighting has been raging for more than one month between the Taliban forces and Ahmad Massoud-led National Resistance Force (NRF) on many fronts in Panjshir Valley and other parts of northern Afghanistan.

According to The Washington Post, which managed to sneak its reporter into the Panjshir valley, found that the fighting was taking place in parts of Dara, Panjshir, and Andarab. The report says that the fighters of the Resistance Front are present in the Panjshir districts.  They are also positioned in strength at the Shaba base, Arezoo valleys, Shotol, and in the areas of Deh Salah, Banu, and Pol Hesar.”

The anti-Taliban Massoud resistance force are equipped now with an anti-helicopter heavy gun installed to repel the Taliban from flying around the Hindu Kush mountains. The Resistance forces are becoming better equipped and the new weapons are coming to the battlefield. 

One commander of the NRF said that they were equipped with “weapons transferred from Tajikistan and Uzbekistan,” but said ammunition, especially rocket launchers, was not enough. He refused to divulge further details.

“We are supported by several countries, but we need more,” one commander of the NRF told The Washington Post, on the condition of anonymity for security reasons.

But Nasrullah Malikzada, the Taliban's intelligence chief in Panjshir, told the Post that " everything is fine and there is no fighting " in Panjshir, but some Panjshir residents said the Taliban's operation against the "Resistance Front" was still ongoing. They say that the Taliban  have perpetrated “genocide” in Panjshir, Andarab, and Takhar.

"The clashes in Panjshir are unlikely to pose an imminent threat to  Taliban’s control but the violent resistance here punctures key narratives propping up the movement’s claim to legitimacy: that its rule has brought peace to Afghanistan,” wrote Yalda Hakim, an Afghan journalist with BBC on Twitter. 

The report says that there has been a large presence of Taliban fighters in Panjshir province, equipped with sophisticated weapons. Thousands of fighters of the Taliban's "Red Brigade" had been deployed in the Panjshir province. 

According to Afghan journalists, the Resistance groups are unlikely to defeat the Taliban’s superior firepower but they could dig in for the long haul, embedding among local populations and using knowledge of the terrain for a guerrilla-style hit-and-run insurgency. This seems to be the Taliban’s greatest fear and explains the vicious response to the uprisings, including reported arbitrary executions of civilians in some hotspots. 

The NRF leaders exhorted the Taliban rulers to form a more inclusive government or risk civil war.

 “We demand the Taliban end their destruction and set the table for talks to find solutions to the current problems of Afghanistan. The Islamists should learn from the experiences of history that no group can have a stable government through acts of force and pressure,” said Ahmad Massoud, the NRF leader and son of Ahmad Shah Massoud, the Lion of Panjshir.

Also Read: Fierce fighting rages in Panjshir as anti-Taliban forces hammer call for an inclusive government in Afghanistan