Afghanistan updates

The Taliban has declared victory over Afghanistan’s final opposition stronghold after resistance fighters within the Panjshir Valley claimed that an aerial assault had inflicted heavy casualties on their management.

The militants’ flag was reportedly hoisted over the governor’s residence within the mountainous space north of Kabul on Monday, the primary time the Taliban has made such deep inroads right into a area that has been a cradle of resistance to the group for many years.

“The mercenary enemy’s closing nest in Panjshir was utterly conquered with the assistance of the Almighty Allah,” Zabihullah Mujahid, Taliban spokesperson, mentioned. “Panjshir province is totally below the management of the Islamic emirate.”

However Ali Nazary, head of overseas relations for the Nationwide Resistance Entrance of Afghanistan, a coalition of anti-Taliban fighters, denied the battle was completed. He mentioned resistance fighters had retreated to the mountains, from the place they’d keep their armed wrestle.

“Proper now, the Taliban have been spreading plenty of propaganda that they’ve taken over the valley, which is flawed,” Nazary instructed the Monetary Instances. “Getting into the Panjshir doesn’t translate into victory . . . What we’ve modified is our ways. Forty-eight hours in the past, we had been combating extra of a standard battle. Now we’re shifting in the direction of guerrilla warfare.”

The whereabouts of the opposition’s two most important leaders — Ahmad Massoud, son of a legendary anti-Taliban fighter, and Amrullah Saleh, vice-president within the former authorities of president Ashraf Ghani — are unclear.

Mujahid instructed a press convention in Kabul that Saleh had escaped to neighbouring Tajikistan. The declare couldn’t be instantly verified.

The Taliban advanced into Panjshir after the NRFA mentioned the valley had come below aerial assault, killing a number of navy commanders and Fahim Dashti, a spokesperson for the resistance and a former journalist.

“We now have seen some drone strikes — aerial bombings — we don’t know if they’re drones or planes,” Nazary mentioned.

The opposition fighters accused Pakistan of offering aerial assist to the Taliban offensive however Islamabad denied the declare.

“Pakistan has not deployed any of its forces to assist the Taliban,” a Pakistani authorities official mentioned. “There is no such thing as a credible proof to assist these fabricated claims.”

The official added that the Taliban had acquired a number of navy helicopters when US forces withdrew final month and that some pilots from the collapsed Afghan military had been working with the Taliban.

“The Taliban now have an impartial means to make use of their very own air energy utilizing older helicopters and Afghan pilots,” the official mentioned.

Islamabad has supported the Taliban for many years and was certainly one of simply three states to recognise the group’s regime when it managed Afghanistan within the Nineteen Nineties.

Faiz Hameed, head of Inter-Providers Intelligence company, Pakistan’s spy company, visited Kabul at the weekend to fulfill Taliban leaders and prolong the nation’s assist to create a unified Afghan navy.

Massoud appealed for a ceasefire on Sunday and urged the Taliban to renew negotiations on a peace and power-sharing settlement.

However analysts mentioned the Taliban had little incentive to interact in talks and would most likely flip its full consideration to forming a brand new authorities greater than three weeks after its fighters marched into Kabul.

Mujahid mentioned the Taliban would most likely announce an interim administration within the coming days, amid reviews of squabbling amongst rival factions.

“The Taliban lastly have a political pie to distribute and there are many claimants for that pie,” mentioned Asfandyar Mir, an affiliate at Stanford College’s Middle for Worldwide Safety and Cooperation. “It’s a really difficult dance.”

Extra reporting by Fazelminallah Qazizai in Kabul