Taliban say they took Panjshir, last holdout Afghan province

Thousands of Taliban fighters overran eight districts of Panjshir in a single day, in accordance with witnesses from the realm who spoke on situation of anonymity, fearing for his or her security. Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid issued an announcement, saying Panjshir was now beneath management of Taliban fighters.

“We tried our greatest to resolve the issue by way of negotiations, and they rejected talks after which we needed to ship our forces to struggle,” Mujahid informed a press convention in Kabul later Monday.

The anti-Taliban forces had been led by the previous vp, Amrullah Saleh, and likewise the son of the enduring anti-Taliban fighter Ahmad Shah Massoud who was killed simply days earlier than the 9/11 terrorist assaults within the United States.

Meanwhile in northern Balkh province, at the least 4 planes chartered to evacuate a number of hundred folks searching for to flee the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan have been unable to depart the nation for days, officers mentioned Sunday, with conflicting accounts rising about why the flights weren’t in a position to take off as stress ramps up on the U.S. to assist these left behind to depart.

An Afghan official on the airport within the metropolis of Mazar-e-Sharif, the provincial capital, mentioned that the would-be passengers have been Afghans, a lot of whom didn’t have passports or visas, and thus have been unable to depart the nation. Speaking on situation of anonymity as a result of he was not licensed to speak to reporters, he mentioned they had left the airport whereas the state of affairs was being sorted out.

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The prime Republican on the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee, nonetheless, mentioned that the group included Americans and that they had boarded planes however the Taliban weren’t letting them take off, successfully “holding them hostage.” Rep. Michael McCaul of Texas informed “Fox News Sunday” that American residents and Afghan interpreters have been being saved on six planes. He didn’t say the place that data got here from and it was not instantly attainable to reconcile the 2 accounts.

The ultimate days of America’s 20-year conflict in Afghanistan have been marked by a harrowing airlift at Kabul’s airport to evacuate tens of hundreds of individuals — Americans and their allies — who feared what the long run would maintain, given the Taliban’s historical past of repression, significantly of ladies. When the last American troops pulled out on Aug. 30, although, many have been left behind.

The U.S. promised to proceed working with the brand new Taliban rulers to get those that need to omit, and the militants pledged to permit anybody with the correct authorized paperwork to depart.

Experts had doubted that resistance to the Taliban in Panjshir, the last holdout province, might succeed long-term regardless of the realm’s geographical benefit.

Nestled within the towering Hindu Kush mountains, the Panjshir Valley has a single slim entrance. Local fighters held off the Soviets there within the Eighties and likewise, for a short time, the Taliban a decade later beneath the management of Massoud. He was one in every of a number of former mujahedeen leaders who had dominated Kabul between 1992-96 however turned their weapons on one another, resulting in the 1996 arrival of the Taliban.

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Massoud’s son Ahmad, in an announcement Sunday referred to as for an finish to the combating. The younger British-schooled Massoud mentioned his forces have been prepared to put down their weapons however provided that the Taliban agreed to finish their assault. Late on Sunday dozens of autos loaded with Taliban fighters have been seen swarming into the Panjshir Valley.

There has been no assertion from Saleh, Afghanistan’s former vp who had declared himself the appearing president after President Ashraf Ghani fled the nation on Aug. 15 because the Taliban reached the gates of the capital. The Taliban subsequently entered the presidency constructing that day.

The Taliban’s lightning blitz throughout the nation took lower than per week to overrun some 300,000 Afghan authorities troops, most of whom surrendered or fled.

The whereabouts of Saleh and the younger Massoud weren’t instantly identified Monday.

Mujahid, the Taliban spokesman, sought to guarantee residents of Panjshir that they could be secure — whilst scores of households reportedly fled into the mountains forward of the Taliban’s arrival.

“There isn’t any want for any extra combating,” Mujahid mentioned on the press convention. “All Panjshir folks and people who dwell in Panjshir are our brothers and they are a part of our nation.”

The Taliban had stepped up their assault on Panjshir on Sunday, tweeting that their forces overran Rokha district, one of many largest within the province. Several Taliban delegations have tried negotiations with the holdouts, however talks failed.

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Fahim Dashti, the spokesman for the anti-Taliban group and a distinguished media character throughout earlier governments, was killed in battle Sunday, in accordance with the group’s Twitter account. He was additionally the nephew of Abdullah Abdullah, a senior Kabul official of the previous authorities concerned in negotiations with the Taliban on the way forward for Afghanistan.

Mujahid denied Dashti died in battle with the Taliban, and claimed he was killed in an “inside dispute amongst two commanders in Panjshir,” with out providing any proof to assist that declare.

Mujahid additionally informed reporters that the Taliban would announce a brand new authorities “inside days” — one that might be inclusive, he mentioned, with out elaborating. Once the federal government is fashioned, members of the previous Afghan military and safety forces could be requested to return to work, he added.

“We want their experience,” he mentioned. Members of the earlier Afghan safety forces would then be a part of with Taliban fighters to kind a single military, Mujahid added. Taliban fighters in civilian garments using in pickup vans by way of Kabul would get replaced with Taliban males in uniform.

Asked what rights girls would have beneath the Taliban, Mujahid promised all girls would ultimately be “requested to return” to their jobs.

The Taliban have claimed unspecified “safety causes” are behind the present sluggish tempo of return of Afghan girls to their office and likewise behind proscribing girls to their houses, except accompanied by a male guardian. But many who bear in mind their rule are skeptical.

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Associated Press author Rahim Faiez in Istanbul contributed to this report.

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