Kolkata, India: The leader of the forces resisting the Taliban from capturing the Panjshir Valley — one of the last holdouts from the Islamist group, said Monday they’re ready to negotiate.
The report comes after the Taliban said Sunday that it has captured all the districts of the Panjshir Valley, but fighting was ongoing for the provincial capital, Afghan media outlet Tolo News reported.
However, the resistance has refuted this claim saying it retook one region from the Taliban control.
Making an announcement on the group’s Facebook page, the leader of the National Resistance Front of Afghanistan (NRF), Ahmad Massoud said they welcome viewpoints from the religious scholars to end the fight.
Fierce fighting has followed since last week’s end around the provincial capital of Panjshir Valley — a mountainous region 100 miles northeast of Afghanistan.
The region is widely known for its deadlock resistance against undemocratic forces and has been the only one to have resisted the Taliban advance so far.
However, the Taliban has made claims it has surrounded the region and has taken over, but the NRF has refuted the claims.
Media reports say the Taliban has barred humanitarian aids to Panjshir including food supplies, medicines, and other essentials.
“The NRF in principle agree to solve the current problems and put an immediate end to the fighting and continue negotiations,” Massoud said in the Facebook post.
“To reach a lasting peace, the NRF is ready to stop fighting on condition that Taliban also stop their attacks and military movements on Panjshir and Andarab,” he said, referring to a district in the neighboring province of Baghlan.
The Ulema council of religious scholars might then convene a massive gathering of all parties, he suggested.
After the Western-backed administration crumbled and President Ashraf Ghani fled the country, the Islamist Taliban grabbed control of the rest of Afghanistan three weeks ago, gaining power in Kabul on Aug. 15.
The report comes after religious scholars had previously urged the Taliban to embrace a diplomatic settlement to cease the war in Panjshir, according to Afghan media agencies.
The Taliban did not respond.
The NRFA also stated on Sunday that its main spokesman, Fahim Dashti, was slain during a fight.
Dashti had escaped the suicide attempt that killed Massoud’s father, Ahmad Shah Massoud, on September 9, 2001, just days before the September 11 attacks on the US.
Dashti’s last tweets were the same announcements as leader Massaoud.
Panjshir Valley, a rugged mountainous region near the Afghan capital in Kabul has been fiercely resisting the Taliban for decades.
The region had famously resisted the mighty Soviet Union forces as well as the Taliban during the hardline Islamist group’s former stint in power.
A narrow pathway to the provincial capital, extremely rugged territories, and smooth channelization of essential supplies have been vital factors for the resistance’s survival for years.
However, this time the fate of the region is yet to be tested, since supply routes running north to the border, was cut off by the Taliban’s stunning win last month.
Reuters noted the fighting in Panjshir has been the most visible example of Taliban resistance. Individual protests for women’s rights or in support of Afghanistan’s green, red, and black flags have also taken place in several cities.