Tuesday, 21 May, 2024

Panjshir commander launches offensive against Taliban rule in Afghanistan

National Resistance Front, led by Ahmad Massoud, says they have seized three Afghan districts – a claim swiftly rejected by the Taliban government.

The NRF has repeatedly denounced the Taliban – calling it an “illegitimate government”. (AFP)

An Afghan insurgent group, led by the son of late anti-Taliban commander Ahmad Shah Massoud, has claimed to have seized three northern districts from the Taliban after announcing a wide military offensive.

The National Resistance Front (NRF), led by Ahmad Massoud, said the action in the Panjshir Valley was its first armed offensive against Taliban forces since they stormed back to power.

"Since last night when Ahmad Massoud… ordered his forces to launch their offensive, three major districts were liberated in Panjshir," Ali Nazary, head of the NRF's foreign relations, said on Saturday.

The NRF took the main road, outposts and villages in these districts and then besieged the Taliban in the district offices, he said.

"Many Taliban fighters have asked for time to surrender. The enemy has suffered heavy casualties."

Nazary said the NRF offensive would continue across 12 provinces where its forces had a presence, mostly in the north.

READ MORE:Fighting rages as anti-Taliban militia holds in Panjshir Valley

Taliban rejects claims

The Taliban government rejected the NRF claims, saying there had been no "military incidents" in Panjshir or any other part of the country.

"The allegations made by some insurgents in the media are untrue," spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid said on Twitter.

Residents of Panjshir said that there was heavy fighting during the night.

A local Taliban commander confirmed there was fighting with NRF fighters. "But we have not been surrounded or ambushed," Dad Mohammad Batar said.

The Panjshir Valley is famed for being the site of resistance to Soviet forces in the 1980s, as well to the Taliban in the late 1990s during their first stint in power.

Its most revered figure is Ahmad Shah Massoud, known as the "Lion of Panjshir", who was assassinated in 2001 by Al Qaeda, two days before the 9/11 attacks.

READ MORE:Afghan Taliban claims 'complete control' of Panjshir province

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