AfghanistanMassoud Vows to Fight on as Taliban Claims Victory Over Resistance

By Ayesha Tanzeem

Published 6 September 2021

The Taliban has taken over the Panjshir Valley, saying that with the defeat of the last hold-out of the anti-Taliban forces, the valley is now open for travel and supplies. In a twitter message, resistance leader Ahmad Massoud said his forces are still present in Panjshir and will continue to fight the Taliban, but admitted that “hard decisions” had to be made, with ammunition running in the face of furious enemy attacks.”

The Taliban said road links to Panjshir valley are now open, and food and other supplies can now be transported. Soon after declaring they had taken over the valley and ended remnants of resistance against their rule, the group said electricity, cellphone and internet services would be restored soon. 

“Thank God that we do not have civilian casualties in our fight to capture and conquer Panjshir,” Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said in a press conference in Kabul on Monday.

The Taliban have taken over the provincial capital and the governor’s compound in the valley and shared videos of their fighters in the capital.

Meanwhile, in an audio message on his Facebook page, resistance leader Ahmad Massoud said his forces are still present in Panjshir and will continue to fight the Taliban.

Earlier in the day, pro-resistance Twitter accounts claimed their fighters retreated to the mountains to regroup but that they will continue to fight.  

“Last night, we had to make a hard decision in the face of furious enemy attacks and depleted amunitians (sic),” said their Twitter message posted Monday afternoon. “Make a last stand in Bazarak and risk the total elimination of our leadership, or retreat to higher ground in order to continue the resistance. We choose the latter.” 

Another message, posted at the same time, said their leaders were safe and in good spirits.

“We are on a terrain that we know and best suits the next chapter of our resistance. We know what we are doing! This was expected!” the tweet said.

Massoud is the son of Ahmad Shah Massoud, the Northern Alliance leader who successfully resisted Taliban rule in the 1990s and was nicknamed the “Lion of Panjshir.”

 Mujahid said those in the resistance who wanted to return to a normal life in Afghanistan were welcome, but efforts to undermine the new Taliban regime would be considered sedition and dealt with accordingly.

He said work for the formulation of a new Taliban government was complete, but the announcement was delayed since some technical issues remained. 

The new ministers, the Taliban spokesman said, might be considered acting ministers to give the government the flexibility to enact changes if needed. He also assured journalists that Taliban chief Hibatullah Akhundzada was alive and would appear in public soon. 

Akhundzada’s public absence has given rise to rumors of his death. Taliban founder Mullah Omar had been dead for two years before news of his demise leaked in 2015.