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Panjshir, Afghanistan’s last free territory, hopes for peaceful talks, but ready to fight Taliban

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New Delhi: The Taliban will have to work harder to take over Panjshir Valley in northern Afghanistan. The valley, the last major holdout that is still not under Taliban control.

Ahmad Massoud, son of the legendry Panjshir leader Ahmad Shah Massoud, said he hoped for peaceful negotiations, but he and his supporters were ready to fight if there were any attempts to attack the valley.

According to Massoud, forces of what remains of the regular army, special forces and others who took refuge in Panjshir have gathered to fight the Taliban if and when they attack. Deposed Afghan vice-president Amrullah Saleh and ex-Defense minister Bismillah Mohmammadi are among those being hosted in the valley.

“I will never, ever and under no circumstances bow to the Taliban terrorists. I will never betray the soul and legacy of my hero Ahmad Shah Mas[s]oud, the commander, the legend and the guide,” Saleh had written on Twitter.

Meanwhile, there are reports of hundreds of Taliban fighters heading to Panjshir.

The valley is geographically tough to penetrate. There is a narrow passage created by the Panjshir River, which is the only access point to the valley and can be defended easily by a small group. This gives is a natural advantage over outside attack. Panjshir could not be conquered either by the Taliban or the Soviets earlier. The valley is dominated by the ethnic Tajik group.

 

 

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