Ahmad Massoud safe, says NRF; Taliban ask ex-Afghan forces to integrate with govt: 10 points
As the fight rages on between Taliban fighters and the resistance force in Afghanistan's Panjshir valley, the latter said on Monday that its leader Ahmad Massoud is safe.
National Resistance Front (NRF) spokesperson Ali Nazary said Massoud will soon make a statement. "My leader and brother Ahmad Massoud is safe and will be giving a message to our people very soon!" Nazary tweeted.
The Taliban claimed earlier on Monday that their fighters have captured Panjshir valley - the last pocket of resistance in Afghanistan - but the NRF quickly dismissed the claim. It said that fighting is still going on and that its forces are positioned on all strategic points.
Here are the latest developments:
1. The NRF posted a tweet from their unverified account on Monday, assuring people of Afghanistan that the struggle against the Taliban and their partners will continue.
2. Iran "strongly" condemned the Taliban's military offensive against holdout fighters in Afghanistan. "The news coming from Panjshir is truly worrying. The assault is strongly condemned," Iran's foreign ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh told reporters.
3. The resistance in Panjshir is being led by Massoud - the son of the iconic anti-Taliban fighter Ahmad Shah Massoud who was killed just days before the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the United States - and former Afghan vice president Amrullah Saleh, who has vowed to not surrender before Taliban.
4. In a statement on Sunday, Massoud's son Ahmad called for an end to the fighting. The young British-schooled Massoud said his forces were ready to lay down their weapons but only if the Taliban agreed to end their assault.
5. The statement was issued as Taliban claimed victory over Panjshir. Late on Sunday, dozens of vehicles loaded with Taliban fighters were seen swarming into the valley. News agency AP quoted witnesses to report that thousands of Taliban fighters overran eight districts of Panjshir overnight.
6. Fahim Dashti, the spokesman for the anti-Taliban group, was killed in battle on Sunday, according to the group’s Twitter account. Dashti was the voice of the group and a prominent media personality during previous governments.
7. He was also the nephew of Abdullah Abdullah, a senior official of the former government who is involved in negotiations with the Taliban on the future of Afghanistan.
8. The whereabouts of Saleh and the young Massoud are not known.
9. A Taliban spokesperson, meanwhile, said on Monday that a new Afghan government would be announced soon, but he did not specify when.
10. The spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid called on former members of the Afghan forces to integrate with the new hardline rulers and added that any insurgency against their rule would be "hit hard".