Afghan resistance continues in the one province of the country which has not completely fallen under Taliban control. The Panjshir Valley is still home to a sizable force of anti-Taliban militias and remnants of the former Afghan National Army who have rallied in the historically impenetrable region. With the Taliban advancing and Western support absent these resistance fighters are currently in an extremely precarious position.
Panjshir resistance survives for now
The Panjshir Valley is known as the home of Ahmad Shah Massoud, a militia leader who held the province against incursions from both the Soviets and the Taliban.
The region is surrounded by mountains which allow few routes for any attacker hoping to enter the valley and the locals do not make the task any easier.
Panjshir is home to a population which is primarily made up of Tajiks, whereas the Taliban has historically been dominated by Pashtuns.
The stunning Taliban offensive which conquered the rest of the country began with the capture of areas which prior to 2001 were home to the Northern Alliance forces who opposed the first Taliban regime.
The rest of these regions easily fell into Taliban hands but the Panjshir Valley has thus far held out. With the Western withdrawal from Kabul complete this is the last part of the country which is not ruled by the Taliban.
Ahmad Massoud, son of Ahmad Shah, and former Vice President Amrullah Saleh have sought to regroup in the valley and organize a military resistance to the Taliban.
VIDEO circulated by pro-TB accounts claiming to show two tanks captured by TB at a NRF position in/around Panjshir that was overrun by TB. Undated (but as per pro-TB sources claimed to be from earlier today). #Afghanistan pic.twitter.com/b7VhME616J
— FJ (@Natsecjeff) September 3, 2021
Taliban closes in
Both men have been urgently looking for support from the United States and Europe. Ahmad Massoud has also been in continuous negotiations with the Taliban but there has apparently been no progress made in these talks.
Resistance fighters and Taliban forces have been engaged in some battles in the province and both sides have claimed victories which their opponents deny.
The strength of the armies involved and the details of these battles are almost impossible to verify but the Taliban does appear to be gaining ground now that it has shifted forces from other parts of the country to the Panjshir area.
Massoud and Saleh know that they will be unable to hold out for long without international support and with each skirmish and village they lose that support becomes increasingly unlikely.
If anti-Taliban forces were not able to put up a fight while they had American support and a well-equipped standing army it seems highly unlikely that they will be a viable resistance now that they are surrounded and outgunned.
The people of Afghanistan clearly have no desire to see the country thrown into another decade of war and NATO is equally unenthusiastic about another intervention. It is likely only a matter of time before Panjshir finally falls.