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Panjshir under siege: Taliban say they have resistance fighters surrounded, Salang Pass open

Former vice president Amrullah Saleh tweeted that the humanitarian situation is dire

amrulla-panjshir Ahmad Massoud (centre) with Amrullah Saleh (right) in Panjshir Valley

Taliban fighters are inching closer to Panjshir Valley, where resistance fighters are holed up, and have retaken at least three major districts. They have surrounded the valley from all sides. In a Twitter post, Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid said that they have retaken Bannu, Pul-e-Hisar and Deh Saleh districts of Baghlan, which fell to the anti-Taliban militia earlier, and that the troops were stationed at the gates of Panjshir from the directions of Takhar, Badakhshan and Andarab. "The Salang Pass is open and the enemy is under siege in Panjshir. The Islamic Emirate is trying to solve the problem through talks," he tweeted. The Salang Pass connects the Baghlan province to the nation's capital in Kabul. 

Former vice president Amrullah Saleh, who declared himself the rightful president of Afghanistan from Panjshir, tweeted that Taliban wasn't allowing food and fuel to get into Andarab valley. "The humanitarian situation is dire. Thousands of women and children have fled to mountains. Since the last two days Talibs abduct children and elderly and use them as shields to move around or do house search," he said.

Videos from the Panjshir Valley north of Kabul, a stronghold of the Northern Alliance militias that allied with the US during the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan, appear to show potential opposition figures gathering there. That area is in the only province that has not fallen to the Taliban. The valley is the birthplace of Ahmad Shah Massoud, one of the tallest anti-Taliban fighters from the country. 

Those figures include members of the deposed government Vice President Amrullah Saleh, who asserted on Twitter that he is the country's rightful president, and Defense Minister Gen. Bismillah Mohammadi as well as Ahmad Massoud, the son of the slain Northern Alliance leader Ahmad Shah Massoud.

In an opinion piece published by The Washington Post, Massoud asked for weapons and aid to fight the Taliban. "I write from the Panjshir Valley today, ready to follow in my father's footsteps, with mujahideen fighters who are prepared to once again take on the Taliban," he wrote. "The Taliban is not a problem for the Afghan people alone. Under Taliban control, Afghanistan will without doubt become ground zero of radical Islamist terrorism; plots against democracies will be hatched here once again."


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