The Taliban reneged on a day-old ceasefire agreement and attacked the national resistance forces in Afghanistan’s redoubtable Panjshir valley on Thursday.
Barely a day before, the Taliban and the Northern Alliance had agreed to cease attacks against each other, Geo News had reported.
Negotiations between the delegations of the Taliban and Northern Alliance had taken place over the last two days at Charikar in Afghanistan’s Parwan province.
A peace agreement was to be announced during a press conference by the Taliban and Northern Alliance leaders.
But by cutting off internet in Panjshir, the Taliban had already given indication of its hostile intent to neutralise the resistance .
” Perhaps they were waiting for the last US soldier to leave our soil,” said a resistance fighter Abdul.
The most significant pocket of resistance against the Taliban following their takeover of Afghanistan is in Panjshir Valley.
Comprising anti-Taliban militia fighters and former Afghan security forces and led by Ahmad Massoud and Amrullah Saleh , they vowed to resist as the Taliban send fighters to surround the area.
Massoud is son of the ‘Lion of Panjshir’ Ahmed Shah Massoud, Saleh a vice president in the Ashraf Ghani who now claims he is caretaker president.
Heavy fighting was reported on three approaches to the Panjshir valley , but the Taliban seems to have rushed thousands of fighters equipped with leftover sophisticated US weapons.
” They are already enforcing a food blockade of Panjshir to starve us to submission,” said Tajik commander Hossain Shah. ” But we will fight the Taliban to the very last.”
Both sides have said they want to resolve the standoff through talks in the past.
Panjshir is a narrow valley deep in the Hindu Kush mountains, with its southern tip around 80 km north of the capital Kabul.
The valley has limited entry points and its geography offers a natural military advantage, defending units can use high positions to effectively target attacking forces.
It also has immense symbolic value in Afghanistan as the area that has resisted occupation by invaders for more than a century.
Resistance from the valley, mainly inhabited by ethnic Tajik people, heavily shaped the political and security landscape of Afghanistan during the 1980s and 1990s.
The Taliban have sent hundreds of fighters into the areas surrounding Panjshir, in an apparent attempt to lay siege and force a surrender.
Despite the escalation, Taliban spokesmen have said they would prefer to resolve the situation peacefully.
The NRF (National Resistance Front) had said it is open to talks with the Taliban on an inclusive government, and elders from the Panjshir Valley have reportedly spoken with Taliban officials.
The Taliban had said they are in control of at least three areas around Panjshir, and former Vice President Amrullah Saleh has tweeted that a humanitarian crisis is developing because food and fuel supplies have been cut off.
While the NRF had vowed to resist any assault, it is unclear if they have the food, supplies, and ammunition to withstand a prolonged siege.