Former Afghan vice president Amrullah Saleh and Ahmad Massoud hope to lead a resistance from the valley northeast of Kabul.
A Taliban resistance is forming in Afghanistan's Panjshir Valley led by vice president Amrullah Saleh and Ahmad Massoud, the son of a famed anti-Taliban fighter, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Thursday.
"The Taliban doesn't control the whole territory of Afghanistan," Lavrov told reporters at a press conference in Moscow following a meeting with his Libyan counterpart.
"There are reports of the situation in the Panjshir Valley where the resistance of Afghanistan's vice president Mr Saleh and Ahmad Massoud is concentrated," he said.
The Panjshir Valley northeast of Kabul is Afghanistan's last remaining holdout, known for its natural defences.
According to images shared on social media, Saleh and Massoud, the son of anti-Taliban fighter Ahmed Shah Massoud, are pulling together a guerrilla movement to take on the Taliban.
But there's confusion about how strong is the resistance. Ahmad Wali Massoud, who is Ahmed Shah Massoud's younger brother, has distanced himself from Saleh and his nephew.
Former Afghan Vice President Amrullah Saleh has no right to claim that he's Afghanistan's new leader since the regime he represented is no more, says senior politician Ahmed Wali Massoud pic.twitter.com/eAgaLOOvQa— TRT World Now (@TRTWorldNow) August 18, 2021
Lavrov also reiterated his call for an inclusive dialogue involving all political players in Afghanistan for the formation of a "representative government".
READ MORE: What’s Russia’s strategy in Afghanistan?
Amrullah Saleh, President of Afghanistan and Ahmad Massoud, son of Ahmad Shah Massoud Spotted Boarding Helicopter, Either in Panjshir or To Panjshir pic.twitter.com/NkNbqmgBI0— M&P Burg (@MP_Burg) August 19, 2021
Arrived in Panjshir. Am glad to see a lot of great commanders. General Hasib Panjshiri, General Hamid Saifi, Commander Khalid Amiri are here. I will be providing updates soon. @AmrullahSaleh2 is our leader. I request all our friends to join us.— Sarfaraz (@Sarfaraz1201) August 19, 2021
RESISTANCE2.0 IS A MUST. pic.twitter.com/M1dWK45qSE
The Northern Alliance resistance forces in #Panjshir province of Afghanistan 🇦🇫— Geeta Mohan گیتا موہن गीता मोहन (@Geeta_Mohan) August 18, 2021
Ahmad Massoud (Ahmad Shah Massoud's son), along with Amrullah Saleh, have taken the lead to fight the Taliban.
Panjshir is the only province not under Taliban control.
(video via social media) pic.twitter.com/81NSTjTVCO
Moscow has been cautiously optimistic about the new leadership in Kabul and is seeking contact with the militants in an effort to avoid instability spilling over to neighbouring ex-Soviet states.
While the United States and other countries rushed to evacuate their citizens from Kabul, Russia said its embassy will continue to work.
Earlier this week, Russia's ambassador to Afghanistan Dmitry Zhirnov met with the Taliban in Kabul, hailing on state television a "positive and constructive" meeting.
The Kremlin has in recent years reached out to the Taliban —which is banned as an "extremist" group in Russia — and hosted its representatives in Moscow several times, most recently last month.