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  4. Taliban fighters head to capture Panjshir Valley after officials refuse peaceful handover

Taliban fighters head to capture Panjshir Valley after officials refuse peaceful handover

Ahmad Massoud's father was killed just days before the September 11, 2001 attacks on the US by al-Qaeda militants who enjoyed Afghan sanctuary under Taliban rule.

India TV News Desk India TV News Desk
New Delhi Published on: August 23, 2021 9:08 IST
panjshir valley
Image Source : AP

Taliban fighters display their flag on patrol in Kabul, Afghanistan

Panjshir valley will not be handed over to the Taliban and resistance fighters will be ready to fight back if the extremist group tries to seize it, the son of one of the main leaders of Afghanistan's anti-Soviet resistance in the 1980s. "We confronted the Soviet Union, and we will be able to confront the Taliban," Ahmad Massoud, the son of Ahmad Shah Massoud, told Al Arabiya.

The Taliban told Massoud he had four hours to give up Panjshir valley, north of Kabul, where the 32-year-old and Vice President of Afghanistan Amrullah Saleh are holed up.

Massoud said he would not surrender areas under his control to the Taliban.

However, he told Al Arabiya he was ready to forgive the Taliban for killing his father if the conditions for peace and security in Afghanistan are met.

His father was killed just days before the September 11, 2001 attacks on the US by al-Qaeda militants who enjoyed Afghan sanctuary under Taliban rule. Ahmad Shah Massoud's name continues to carry huge weight both in Afghanistan and around the world.

Meanwhile, the Taliban has said hundreds of its fighters were heading to the Panjshir Valley.

“Hundreds of Mujahideen of the Islamic Emirate are heading towards the state of Panjshir to control it, after local state officials refused to hand it over peacefully,” the group wrote on its Arabic Twitter account on Sunday.

In a Washington Post editorial, Ahmad Massoud said members of the Afghan military had rallied to his cause ahead of the Taliban's seizure of the country "because we knew this day might come".

"We have stores of ammunition and arms that we have patiently collected since my father's time," he said in the editorial, adding that some of the forces who had joined him had brought their weapons.

"If Taliban warlords launch an assault, they will of course face staunch resistance from us," he said.

In the only confirmed fighting since the fall of Kabul on August 15, anti-Taliban forces took back three districts in the northern province of Baghlan, bordering Panjshir, last week.

EU warns Taliban it has not recognized their regime

Meanwhile, the European Union’s top officials warned the Taliban on Saturday that the current conversations being held to secure the exit of as many Afghan evacuees as possible do not mean the bloc is prepared to recognize the new regime.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen acknowledged the necessity of continuing to engage with the Taliban during her visit, along with EU Council President Charles Michel, to a reception center for evacuees established by Spain near Madrid.

“We do have operational contacts with the Taliban in this moment of crisis because we need to discuss in these difficult times how we can facilitate it for people in Kabul to come to the airport,” the EU leader said. “But this is completely distinct and separated from political talks. There are no political talks with the Taliban and there is no recognition of the Taliban.”

She also said the continuance of European humanitarian aid to Afghanistan will hinge on the Taliban respecting human rights, especially for women and girls.

Also Read | WHO, UNICEF call for 'humanitarian airbridge' to allow delivery of aid to Afghanistan

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