According to the Associated Press and other foreign media reports, the Taliban asked the Russian Embassy in Afghanistan to come forward, to participate in the Taliban and the Taliban and the remnants of the pro-government militants in northern Afghanistan. The news comes as an anti-Taliban force of remnants of some Afghan government forces and other militias is said to have captured three areas near the Panjshir valley.
Dmitry Zyrnoov, Russia’s ambassador to Afghanistan, said Saturday that a senior member of the Taliban’s political leadership had asked the Russian embassy to convey an agreement they had proposed to pro-government fighters in the Panjshir valley in northern Afghanistan in the hope of resolving the current situation there through a political agreement. Ambassador Zirnov said the Taliban claimed they did not want bloodshed in the area.
The Panjshir Valley, north of Kabul, was a stronghold of the U.S.-allied Northern Alliance militia during the 2001 U.S. invasion of Afghanistan and is the only area in Afghanistan that has not fallen into the hands of the Taliban. Afghan government officials, including Amrullah Saleh, Afghanistan’s first vice-president, are seeking asylum there after the Taliban entered Kabul. After Afghan President Ashraf Ghani fled to the United Arab Emirates, Saleh announced on Twitter that he was now the legitimate president of Afghanistan.
Saleh and Masood Jr., the son of Afghanistan’s legendary hero Masood, who has the title of “Panjshir Lion”, have vowed to continue fighting the Taliban from Panjshir, who defeated Soviet troops and the Taliban in the 1980s and 1990s, respectively. People close to Masood said more than 6,000 fighters gathered in the Panjshir Valley, made up of Afghan government forces and local militias, including remnants of special forces, claimed helicopters and military vehicles and repaired some of the armored vehicles left over from the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.
In a tweet, Afghan Defense Minister Bismillah Khan Mohammadi, who has vowed to fight the Taliban, said three districts in Baghlan province, near the north of Panjshir, had been captured by the anti-Taliban forces. One of the police commanders in the occupied area confirmed to Afghan Dawn TV that local militia forces had taken control of the area but had heavy casualties.
So far, the Taliban have reportedly not tried to drive into Panjshir, which is still dotted with the remains of Soviet armored vehicles destroyed in fighting more than 30 years ago. But Western diplomats and others have questioned the effectiveness of the armed groups gathered in Panjshir against the Taliban because of their lack of external support and the need to repair and maintain weapons.