5 Sept 2021
Taliban and Opposition Forces Fight for the Last Afghan Holdout Province
The Index Today
Taliban and the opposition forces battled last Saturday to control the Panjshir Valley northern part of Kabul, the last Afghan province holding out against the Taliban. Top U.S. general warned there could be a civil war if the Islamists failed to unite the people in country.
It was reported that both sides claimed to have the upper hand in the valley but neither could produce indisputable evidence to prove it. Taliban were unable to conquer the valley even before when they ruled Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001.
Taliban spokesman Bilal Karimi said on Twitter that the districts of Khinj and Unabah had been taken, giving Taliban forces control of four of the province's seven districts. "The Mujahideen (Taliban fighters) are advancing toward the centre of the province," he added.
But the National Resistance Front of Afghanistan, grouping forces loyal to the local leader Ahmad Massoud, said that it surrounded thousands of terrorists in Khawak pass and the Taliban had abandoned vehicles and equipment in the Dashte Rewak area.
U.S. General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said "My military estimate is, is that the conditions are likely to develop of a civil war. I don't know if the Taliban is going to be able to consolidate power and establish governance."
Speaking to Fox News from Ramstein Air Base in Germany, Milley said if they cannot that will "in turn lead to a reconstitution of Al Qaeda or a growth of ISIS or other myriad of terrorist groups" over the next three years.
It was not immediately possible to get further independent confirmation of events in Panjshir, which is walled off by mountains except for a narrow entrance.
Pakistan's spy chief Lieutenant General Faiz Hameed flew into Kabul on Saturday. It was not clear what his agenda would be, but a senior official in Pakistan said earlier in the week that Hameed, who heads the powerful Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency, can help the Taliban to reorganize the military forces of Afghanistan.
It was reported before that the Washington has accused Pakistan and the ISI of backing the Taliban in the group's two-decade fight against the U.S.-backed government in Kabul, although Islamabad has denied the accusations.
A Taliban source said the announcement of a new government would be pushed back to next week.
Western powers say they are prepared to talk with the Taliban and send humanitarian aid, but that formal recognition of the new government they will declare and wider economic assistance will depend on their action - not just assurance to protect the human rights.
©Photo : Reuters