Fighters of the so-called “Resistance-2” against the group in northern Panjshir province say they have managed to retake Salah and Banu districts after killing “dozens” of Taliban insurgents.

Ahmad Massoud, son of Afghanistan's anti-Soviet resistance hero Ahmad Shah Massoud, speaks to supporters in Bazarak, Panjshir province, Afghanistan, September 5, 2019.
Ahmad Massoud, son of Afghanistan's anti-Soviet resistance hero Ahmad Shah Massoud, speaks to supporters in Bazarak, Panjshir province, Afghanistan, September 5, 2019. (Reuters)

The Panjshir based anti-Taliban movement in Afghanistan has made gains in the northern Baghlan province as talks to form a new government continue.

Fighters of the self-styled "Resistance-2" against the Taliban in Panjshir said they managed to retake Salah and Banu districts in Baghlan after killing "dozens" of Taliban fighters. Panjshir is the only one of Afghanistan's 34 provinces yet to fall to the militants.

The Taliban has reportedly surrounded Panjshir as the insurgents and the resistance movement continue talks to negotiate a stand-off.

With the anti-Taliban movement retaking Pul-e-Hisar over the weekend, at least three districts of Baghlan province to the north of Panjshir are with the Massoud forces.

Baghlan is some120 kilometres north of Kabul.

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Leader of the resistance, Ahmed Massoud, son of the slain commander of the Northern Alliance militias that partnered with the US to drive the Taliban from power in 2001, told London-based Al Sharq Al Awsat that his group was ready for "an inclusive government with the Taliban" through political negotiations.

The insurgent's spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid said the group's forces have surrounded nearby Panjshir.

Local Shamshad News also reported that the Taliban’s fierce "Red Unit" is all set to storm Panjshir, waiting for orders.

Several Taliban opponents have gathered there, including Amrullah Saleh, the vice president in the toppled government who claims to be the acting president under the constitution. 

In interviews with Arab media outlets over the weekend, Massoud said his fighters would resist any attempt to take the province by force.

Mujahid said there had been no fighting in Panjshir yet and that his group is seeking a “peaceful solution” to the stand-off.

The Taliban have also shown willingness to politically accommodate Massoud, his uncle Ahmad Wali, and other figures in Panjshir.

One of the resistance spokespersons, Mohammad Naeem, has warned that if the issue of Panjshir is not resolved via dialogue, a military solution is on the cards.

“The small point of Panjshir is remaining, our policy is right from the beginning that we want to resolve the issue via talks before violence.”

Earlier, he said on Saturday that talks and consultations were under way in this connection.

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Calls for inclusive government to avoid repeat of past

Meanwhile, all banks, forex markets, and much of the public and private business remained closed across Afghanistan.

Warning the Taliban of deadly consequences, head of a splinter faction of Jamiat-e-Islami party, Atta Mohammad Noor, stressed in a video statement that an inclusive government should be formed or the past tragedies would repeat.

Sources told Anadolu Agency that the Taliban are busy in consultation for a future set-up as talks continued to ensure their control over Panjshir.

Former chief peace broker Abdullah Abdullah, also a native Panjshir resident, has been spearheading talks between the two sides for days now.

“We met with the elders, religious scholars, representatives & commanders of Panjshir Province in my residence in Kabul. We discussed the current developments in the country, & ways of supporting peace & stability,” he tweeted on Saturday.

This followed a strongly worded statement by former Vice President Amrullah Saleh, also a native resident of Panjshir, who blasted the US and NATO last week for failing the Afghans.

Saleh, a former intelligence chief with known deep ties with the CIA, called his loyalists to join the fight against the Taliban.

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Source: TRTWorld and agencies