The Taliban announced on Monday that the Panjshir Valley, Afghanistan’s last pocket of resistance, had been “completely captured.” In a statement, Taliban chief spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid claimed, “With this victory, our country is entirely taken out of the quagmire of war.”
The Panjshir Valley is famed for being the site of resistance to Soviet forces in the 1980s and the Taliban in the late 1990s.
The insurgent group also lowered the Afghanistan national flag from the Governor’s office and was also removed from the walls of the Kabul.
Local media showed Taliban members standing in front of the gate of the Panjshir provincial governor’s compound.
The National Resistance Front (NRF) of Afghanistan, however, has denied the Taliban’s claims of capturing Panjshir.
“Taliban’s claim of occupying Panjshir is false. The NRF forces are present in all strategic positions across the valley to continue the fight. We assure the people of Afghanistan that the struggle against the Taliban & their partners will continue until justice & freedom prevails,” the group said.
Following their lightning-fast rout of Afghanistan’s army last month — and celebrations Monday when the last US troops flew out after 20 years of war — the Taliban are seeking to crush the forces defending the mountainous Panjshir Valley.
The war over Panjshir province escalated on Friday night and the National Resistance Front said two of its senior leaders–Fahim Dashti, the front’s spokesperson, and General Abdul Wudod Zara–were killed during the fighting with the Taliban.
General Wudod was the nephew of Panjshir resistance leader Ahmad Massoud. Reports also claimed that Amrullah Saleh, the acting president of Afghanistan, has moved to a safe place after a helicopter attack on his house.
“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 was quoted as saying by the Samaa News.