Taliban say resistance holdout Panjshir Valley 'completely captured'
The Taliban said on Sept. 6 they had captured the last pocket of resistance in Afghanistan, the Panjshir Valley, as the top U.S. diplomat flies to Qatar to try and handle the aftermath of the chaotic American withdrawal.
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 - the Taliban turned to crush the forces defending the mountainous Panjshir Valley.
"With this victory, our country is completely taken out of the quagmire of war," chief spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said.
Late on Sept. 5, the so-called National Resistance Front (NRF) - made up of anti-Taliban militia and former Afghan security forces - acknowledged suffering major battlefield losses in Panjshir and called for a ceasefire.
The NRF includes local fighters loyal to Ahmad Massoud - the son of the famous anti-Soviet and anti-Taliban commander Ahmad Shah Massoud - as well as remnants of the Afghan military that retreated to the Panjshir Valley.
The group said in a tweet Sunday that spokesman Fahim Dashty - a well-known Afghan journalist - and General Abdul Wudod Zara had been killed in the latest fighting.
The NRF had vowed to fight the Taliban but also said it was willing to negotiate with the Islamists. But initial contact did not lead to a breakthrough.
The Panjshir Valley is famed for being the site of resistance to Soviet forces in the 1980s and the Taliban in the late 1990s.
The Taliban are yet to finalize their new regime after rolling into Kabul three weeks ago at a speed that analysts say likely surprised even the hardline Islamists themselves.
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