Taliban claim deep advances into Panjshir Valley, opposition vows stiff resistance

Taliban claim deep advances into Panjshir Valley, opposition vows stiff resistance

The Taliban claim to have advanced deep into Afghanistan's last remaining province and holdout of resistance against the group, the Panjshir Valley, while opposition fighters say heavy battle continues in the province.

AhlulBayt News Agency (ABNA): The Taliban claim to have advanced deep into Afghanistan's last remaining province and holdout of resistance against the group, the Panjshir Valley, while opposition fighters say heavy battle continues in the province.

Taliban officials said on Sunday that overnight advances had brought several days of fighting to Anaba, an area close to the provincial capital, Bazarak.

Emergency, an Italy-based charity, which runs a medical center in the area, confirmed that the Taliban had reached Anaba.

Anabah lies some 25 kilometers north inside the 115-km-long valley. The Taliban also claimed that their forces had seized several districts in the northern valley.

According to Reuters, Taliban spokesman Bilal Karimi said on Twitter that the police headquarters and district center of Rukhah, adjacent to the provincial capital Bazarak, had fallen, and opposition forces had suffered heavy losses.

Fighting was underway in Bazarak, he added.

For its part, the National Resistance Front of Afghanistan (NRFA), grouping forces loyal to local leader Ahmad Massoud, said on Sunday that it had pushed back attacks, but acknowledged losing ground to the Taliban and said both sides had suffered casualties.

The NRFA sources said that hundreds of Taliban members had been taken prisoner in Khawak Pass during the fierce clashes.

Ali Maisam Nazary, who is a spokesman for the resistance, boasted Sunday that the resistance "will never fail."

Another NRFA spokesman, Fahim Dashti, said earlier on Sunday that the Taliban "propaganda machine" was trying to spread distracting messages.

"The resistance forces are ready to continue their defense against any form of aggression," he said.

However, former vice-president, Amrullah Saleh, who is holed out in Panjshir alongside Ahmad Massoud, the son of legendary anti-Taliban commander Ahmad Shah Massoud, warned of a grim situation.

Saleh in a statement spoke of a "large-scale humanitarian crisis," with thousands "displaced by the Taliban onslaught."

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