The Taliban has claimed total control over Afghanistan after claiming capture of the Panjshir Valley, the last remaining enclave of resistance against their rule.
But the leader of the resistance forces in Panjshir, Ahmed Massoud, did not concede defeat, saying his forces, drawn from the remnants of the regular Afghan army as well as local militia groups, were still fighting.
“We are in Panjshir and our Resistance will continue,” he said on Twitter. He also said he was safe, but gave no details on his whereabouts.
Following their lightning-fast victory in mid-August over the former Afghan government’s security forces and the withdrawal of US troops after 20 years of war, the Taliban turned to fighting the forces defending the mountainous Panjshir Valley.
As the Taliban claimed victory on Monday, their chief spokesman warned against any further attempts to rise up against their rule while urging former members of the security forces to join their group’s ranks.
“With this victory, our country is completely taken out of the quagmire of war,” chief spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said.
“Anyone who tries to start an insurgency will be hit hard. We will not allow another,” he later added at a news conference in Kabul.
The Taliban published a video of their flag being raised over the governor’s house in Panjshir – underscoring a historic win that has seen the anti-Taliban bastion defeated for the first time during 40 years of conflict.
It remained in the hands of resistance fighters during Soviet rule, a subsequent civil war, and the Taliban’s first time in power of the late 1990s.