Fighting rages in Afghanistan’s Panjshir Valley

Heavy fighting continues between the Taliban and resistance forces in Afghanistan’s Panjshir Valley as the armed group tries to seize the last holdout province.

Resistance fighters said on Sunday that they captured hundreds of Taliban troops as well as their equipment and vehicles.

The Taliban has said its forces had fought their way into the provincial capital of Panjshir.

Meanwhile, Mark Milley, the top US general, said Afghanistan will “likely” erupt in civil war if the Taliban is not able to establish control, warning that a broad civil war could lead to a resurgence of “terrorist” groups.

Alongside a large haul of American-made infantry weapons, Afghanistan’s new rulers now possess Humvees, armoured personnel carriers, and at least one functioning Black Hawk helicopter.

 

Here are the latest updates for Sunday, September 5:


UN calls for end to violence

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called for an end to violence in Afghanistan amid fears of a new civil war.

“I call for an immediate end to violence, for the safety, security and rights of all Afghans to be respected, and for adherence to Afghanistan’s international obligations, including all international agreements to which it is a party,” Guterres said in a report to the Security Council this weekend.

The document, obtained by AFP news agency, has not yet been released publicly.

“I urge the Taliban and all other parties to exercise utmost restraint to protect lives and to ensure that humanitarian needs can be met,” Guterres said.


Germany wants to talk with Taliban about evacuations: Merkel

Germany wants to talk with the Taliban about how to evacuate its remaining local contract workers out of Afghanistan, Chancellor Angela Merkel has said, adding it was a good sign that the airport in Kabul could be used for evacuation flights again.

“We need to talk to the Taliban about how we can continue to get people who worked for Germany out of the country and to safety,” Merkel said.


Panjshir forces claim hundreds of Taliban captured

Taliban and opposition forces continue to battle to control the Panjshir Valley north of Kabul with resistance fighters saying they captured hundreds of Taliban troops.

The National Resistance Front (NRF) of Afghanistan, grouping forces loyal to local leader Ahmad Massoud, said on Sunday it surrounded “thousands of terrorists” in Khawak Pass and the Taliban abandoned vehicles and equipment in the Dashte Rewak area.

NRF spokesman Fahim Dashti added “heavy clashes” were going on.

Read more here.

National Resistance Front personnel install heavy weapons at an outpost in Paryan district in Panjshir province last month [Ahmad Sahel Arman/AFP]

Taliban say they have entered capital of holdout Afghan region

The Taliban has said its forces had fought their way into the provincial capital of Panjshir.

The police headquarters and district centre of Rukhah, adjacent to the provincial capital Bazarak, had fallen, and opposition forces had suffered numerous casualties, with large numbers of prisoners and captured vehicles, weapons and ammunition, Taliban spokesman Bilal Karimi said on Twitter.

Fighting was underway in Bazarak, he said. It was not possible to confirm the report, which was echoed on other Taliban Twitter accounts.


Afghan civil war ‘likely’: US general

The top US general has told US media that Afghanistan will “likely” erupt in civil war, warning such conditions could see a resurgence of “terrorist” groups if the Taliban is not able to consolidate power and establish effective governance.

“My military estimate … is that the conditions are likely to develop of a civil war,” General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told Fox News.

“That will then, in turn, lead to conditions that could, in fact, lead to a reconstitution of al-Qaeda or a growth of ISIS or other … terrorist groups”, Milley said.


Italy to transfer its Afghanistan embassy to Qatar

Italy plans to move its Afghan embassy to Doha, Qatar, Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs Luigi Di Maio said, the latest Western country to set up its diplomatic mission outside Afghanistan since the Taliban takeover.

Many diplomats have flown to the Gulf state, which has hosted the Taliban’s political office since 2013, after evacuating Kabul late last month.

China, Iran, Pakistan, Russia and Turkey have kept their embassies in the Afghan capital open.


NRF reportedly captures hundreds of Taliban fighters

The National Resistance Front (NRF) of Afghanistan, a grouping of forces loyal to Ahmad Massoud in Panjshir Valley, says it surrounded “thousands of terrorists” in Khawak Pass and the Taliban had abandoned vehicles and equipment in the Dashte Rewak area.

NRF spokesman Fahim Dashti said “heavy clashes” were going on in the region.

Al Jazeera’s Charles Stratford, based in the capital Kabul, reported that sources on the ground said hundreds of Taliban fighters had been taken prisoner.

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Resistance movement members stand guard at an outpost in Kotal-e Anjuman of Paryan district in Panjshir province [File: AFP]

Pope hopes many countries take Afghan refugees

Pope Francis says he is praying that many countries take Afghan refugees and, in an apparent reference to the Taliban’s past restrictions on schooling for women, that it is essential that young Afghans receive an education.

“In these moments of upheaval, in which Afghans are seeking refuge, I pray for the most vulnerable among them,” he told hundreds of people in St Peter’s Square for his weekly blessing.

Pope Francis says he prays for the most vulnerable among Afghan people [File: Yara Nardi/Reutters]

Qatar to operate daily aid flights to Afghanistan

Qatar has flown humanitarian aid into Kabul and says it will operate daily aid flights to Afghanistan over the next few days, providing much-needed supplies following a hiatus in much Western aid due to the Taliban’s takeover last month.

Qatar has emerged as a key interlocutor between Western nations and the Taliban, after developing its ties to the group through hosting its political office since 2013.

A Qatari aid flight carrying medical supplies and food products arrived in Kabul on Saturday and Qatar’s Ambassador to Afghanistan Saeed bin Mubarak Al Khayareen was at the airport for its arrival, the Qatari foreign ministry said.



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