Afghanistan: Civilians flee fighting in Panjshir Valley

i24NEWS - AFP

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Afghan resistance movement and anti-Taliban uprising forces take part in a military training at Malimah area of Dara district in Panjshir province  of Afghanistan on September 2, 2021.
Ahmad SAHEL ARMAN / AFPAfghan resistance movement and anti-Taliban uprising forces take part in a military training at Malimah area of Dara district in Panjshir province of Afghanistan on September 2, 2021.

The NRF was the last to hold out against the Taliban's takeover of the country last year

Civilians have fled fighting in Afghanistan's Panjshir Valley after an insurgent group launched an offensive against Taliban forces, according to weekend reports. 

The Panjshir Valley is famed for being a site of resistance by Afghans against Soviet forces in the 1980s and as a base for rebels opposed to Taliban rule during the Islamists' first stint in power in the late 1990s.

The National Resistance Front (NRF) was the last to hold out against the Taliban's takeover of the country last year by retreating to the valley.

Headed by the son of late anti-Taliban commander Ahmad Shah Massoud, NRF forces announced an offensive against the Taliban last week - their first since the hardline Islamists seized power in August.

Both sides claim to have killed dozens of each other's fighters in recent days.

Last week, a spokesperson for the NRF claimed that 22 Taliban members were killed in battles, six were captured, and seven tanks were destroyed - claims that Taliban leaders in Ranjshir have rejected, claiming only three were wounded. 

Taliban commanders in Panjshir, however, told AFP the fighting had stopped.

"They (NRF fighters) have escaped to the mountains," said Abdul Hamid Khurasani, head of the Taliban's elite Badri unit in Panjshir. "The situation is now normal and peaceful."

The NRF said their offensive would continue across 12 provinces where their forces had a presence, mainly in the north of Afghanistan.

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