Nearly 600 Taliban fighters were killed in Afghanistan’s northeastern province of Panjshir, the last Afghan province holding out against the hardline Islamist group, the Afghan resistance forces have claimed. “About 600 Taliban terrorists have been liquidated in various districts of Panjshir since morning. More than 1,000 Taliban militants have been captured or surrendered themselves,” the resistance forces’ spokesperson Fahim Dashti tweeted, according to Sputnik News, adding that the Taliban had problems with getting supplies from other Afghan provinces.
Panjshir is the stronghold of the National Resistance Front of Afghanistan, led by Ahmad Massoud, the son of late ex-Afghan guerrilla commander Ahmad Shah Massoud, and acting President Amrullah Saleh. The Taliban, which swept through the country ahead of the final withdrawal of US-led troops on August 31, could not control the valley when they ruled Afghanistan last from 1996 to 2001.
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Even though both sides claimed to have the upper hand in Panjshir but neither has given any conclusive evidence to prove it. Al Jazeera reported that a Taliban official said fighting was on in Panjshir but the advance had been slowed by landmines placed on the road to the capital Bazarak and the provincial governor’s compound. Taliban spokesperson Bilal Karimi said the Khinj and Unabah districts had been taken, giving Taliban forces control of four of the province’s seven districts. “The Mujahideen (Taliban fighters) are advancing toward the centre (of the province),” he said on Twitter.
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On their part, the National Resistance Front of Afghanistan said it surrounded “thousands of terrorists” in Khawak pass and the Taliban had abandoned vehicles and equipment in the Dashte Rewak area. Dashti said “heavy clashes” were going on. Massoud in a Facebook post has said that Panjshir “continues to stand strong.”
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Saleh, who is holed out alongside Massoud in Panjshir, did say it was a difficult situation for the resistance forces. “The situation is difficult, we have been under invasion. The resistance is continuing and will continue,” Saleh said earlier in a video message.
Meanwhile, a top US general warned of a “civil war” if the Taliban failed to consolidate power. “My military estimate is, is that the conditions are likely to develop off a civil war. I don’t know if the Taliban is going to be able to consolidate power and establish governance,” US General Mark Milley, chairperson of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said.
Milley said while speaking to Fox News from Germany’s Ramstein Air Base if the Taliban cannot that will “in turn lead to a reconstitution of al Qaeda or a growth of ISIS or other myriads of terrorist groups” over the next three years.