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Panjshir Valley is completely captured, says Taliban

Taliban members standing in front of the gate of the Panjshir provincial governor's compound

The Taliban said on Monday that the group has "completely captured" Panjshir, the last stronghold of the resistance forces, after days of fierce fighting in the country’s smallest province north of Kabul.

"With this victory, our country is completely taken out of the quagmire of war," Taliban chief spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid said in a statement.

Pictures on social media showed Taliban members standing in front of the gate of the Panjshir provincial governor's compound.

Reports also claimed that Amrullah Saleh, the acting president of Afghanistan, has moved to a safe place after a helicopter attack on his house.

There was no immediate response from Ahmad Massoud, the leader of the opposition group that was battling Taliban forces.

Late on Sunday the National Resistance Front (NRF) had admitted suffering major battlefield losses in Panjshir and called for a ceasefire. The development came after reports that Taliban forces had fought their way into the provincial capital of Panjshir after securing the surrounding districts.

The group said in a tweet Sunday that its spokesman Fahim Dashty and General Abdul Wudod Zara had been killed in the latest round of fighting.

"Regretfully, The National Resistance of Afghanistan lost two companions in the holy resistance against oppression and aggression today. Mr. Fahim Dashty, NRF spokesperson, and General Abdul Wudod Zara were martyred. May their memory be eternal," the Afghan resistance front said.

 The NRF includes local fighters loyal to Ahmad Massoud, the son of the famous anti-Soviet and anti-Taliban commander Ahmad Shah Massoud, as well as remnants of the Afghan military that retreated to the Panjshir Valley.

The NRF had vowed to fight the Taliban but also said it was willing to negotiate with the Islamists. But several rounds of talks that were held broke down with each side blaming the other for the failure.

The Panjshir Valley has become famous for having remained a pocket of resistance against the Soviet forces in the 1980s and the Taliban in the late 1990s. However, at the time the route to the north for supplies had remained open. This time around it appears that the Taliban had sealed this opening when they took over the rest of the country.

The Taliban took control of the rest of Afghanistan on August 15, merely 10 days after the US troops withdrawal with the army of the Western-backed government melting without putting up a fight and President Ashraf Ghani fleeing the country.

Also Read: Taliban goes for the kill in Panjshir with ISI Chief in command