Taliban battle for Panjshir as US warns of Afghanistan civil war

Taliban fighters advanced deep into the last holdout province of Panjshir on Sept. 5, as the top U.S. general warned Afghanistan faces a wider civil war that would offer fertile ground for a resurgence of terrorism.


Following their lightning fast rout of Afghanistan's army last month - and celebrations when the last U.S. troops flew out after 20 years of war on Monday - the Taliban are seeking to crush resistance forces defending the mountainous Panjshir Valley.

The Taliban, who rolled into Kabul three weeks ago at a speed that analysts say likely surprised even the hardline Islamists themselves, are yet to finalize their new regime.

But U.S. General Mark Milley questioned whether they can consolidate power as they seek to shift from a guerrilla force to government.

"I think there's at least a very good probability of a broader civil war," said Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in a bleak assessment.

"That will then, in turn, lead to conditions that could, in fact, lead to a reconstitution of Al-Qaeda or a growth of ISIS," he told Fox News on Sept. 4.


Afghanistan's new rulers have pledged to be more accommodating than during their first stint in power, which also came after years of conflict - first the Soviet invasion of 1979, and then a bloody civil war.

They have promised a more "inclusive" government that represents Afghanistan's complex ethnic makeup - though women are unlikely to be included at the top levels.

But few in Panjshir, a rugged valley north of Kabul which held out for nearly a decade against the Soviet Union's occupation and also the Taliban's first rule from 1996-2001, seem to trust their promises.

Taliban official Bilal Karimi on Sept. 5...

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