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  05 Sep 2021, 12:01

Taliban push deep into Afghanistan's holdout Panjshir Valley

KABUL, Sept 5, 2021 (BSS/AFP) - Taliban fighters have advanced deep into

Afghanistan's holdout Panjshir Valley, with resistance fighters saying they
are keeping the Islamists at bay, but analysts warned they are struggling.

Italian aid agency Emergency, which runs a hospital in Panjshir, said
Taliban forces had reached the village of Anabah, where they run a surgical
centre.

"Many people have fled from local villages in recent days," Emergency said
in a statement Saturday, adding it was continuing to provide medical
services.

"There has so far been no interference with Emergency's activities," it
said.

"We have received a small number of wounded people at the Anabah Surgical
Centre."

Anabah lies some 25 kilometres (15 miles) north inside the 115-km-long
valley, but unconfirmed reports suggested the Taliban had seized other areas
too.

Bill Roggio, managing editor of the US-based Long War Journal, said Sunday
that there was still a "fog of war" with unconfirmed reports the Taliban had
captured multiple districts -- but that "it looks bad".

Both sides claim to have inflicted heavy losses on each other.

"The Taliban army has been hardened with 20 years of war, and make no
mistake, the Taliban trained an army," Roggio tweeted Sunday, adding that
"the odds were long" for the Panjshir resistance.

"The Taliban army was injected with a massive amount of weapons and
munitions after the US withdrawal and collapse of the ANA" (Afghan National
Army), he added.

Fighters in Panjshir held out for a decade against the Soviet military and
also the Taliban's first regime from 1996-2001.

Ali Maisam Nazary -- who is not in Panjshir but remains a spokesman for
the resistance -- boasted Sunday that the resistance "will never fail".

But former vice-president Amrullah Saleh, who is holed out in Panjshir
alongside Ahmad Massoud -- the son of legendary anti-Taliban commander Ahmad
Shah Massoud -- warned of a grim situation.

Saleh in a statement spoke of a "large-scale humanitarian crisis", with
thousands "displaced by the Taliban onslaught".

Pro-Taliban social media have boasted of capturing swathes of the valley,
but Nick Waters from the investigative website Bellingcat said the posts did
not include verifiable photographs to back up the claims.

"It will be quite easy to verify a video showing Taliban within the
Panjshir valley," Waters said.

The Panjshir Valley, surrounded by jagged snow-capped peaks, offers a
natural defensive advantage, with fighters melting away in the face of
advancing forces, then launching ambushes firing from the high tops down into
the valley.

 

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