Taliban claims full control of Panjshir Valley; NRF denies

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The Taliban claims it is now in complete control of the Afghan province of Panjshir, the last pocket of resistance to its rule.

There’s been heavy fighting in the valley which is north of the capital Kabul, with the National Resistance Front of Afghanistan (NRF) resisting Taliban rule, reports BBC.

“With this victory, our country is completely taken out of the quagmire of war,” a Taliban spokesman said.

However, the NRF have denied this.

“It is not true, the Taliban haven’t captured Panjshir I am rejecting Taliban claims,” said the NRF spokesman Ali Maisam.

Pictures on social media showed Taliban fighters in front of the gate of the provincial governor’s compound. The BBC has not been able to independently verify these images.

The Taliban took control of the rest of Afghanistan three weeks ago, taking power in Kabul on 15 August following the collapse of the Western-backed government.

The leader of the NRF, Ahmad Massoud had said he was open to peace talks as recently as Sunday.

Mr Massoud said he supported a plan, put forward by religious clerics, for a negotiated settlement, and called on the Taliban to end their offensive.

There had been no response from the Taliban.

Panjshir, a rugged mountain valley, is home to between 150,000 and 200,000 people.

It was a centre of resistance when Afghanistan was under Soviet occupation in the 1980s and during the Taliban’s previous period of rule, between 1996 and 2001.

On Sunday two of the NRF’s prominent leaders were killed, which was a big setback for the group.

The front said its spokesman Fahim Dashti and a commander, Gen Abdul Wudod Zara, had been killed in the conflict, while a prominent Taliban general and 13 bodyguards had also died.