Taliban reportedly meets stiff resistance after pushing deep into Afghanistan’s holdout Panjshir Valley.
Ahmad Massoud, leader of the opposition group National Resistance Front (NRF) resisting Taliban forces in Afghanistan’s Panjshir Valley, has said he welcomes proposals from religious scholars for a negotiated settlement to end fighting in the region.
“To reach a lasting peace, the NRF is ready to stop fighting on condition that Taliban also stop their attacks and military movements on Panjshir and Andarab,” Massoud wrote on Facebook on Sunday, referring to a district in the neighbouring province of Baghlan.
Heavy fighting continued between the Taliban and resistance forces in Panjshir Valley as the armed group tried to seize the last holdout province.
Resistance fighters said on Sunday that they captured hundreds of Taliban troops as well as their equipment and vehicles.
The Taliban said its forces had fought their way into the provincial capital of Panjshir after securing the surrounding districts.
Meanwhile, Mark Milley, the top US general, said Afghanistan will “likely” erupt in civil war if the Taliban is not able to establish control, warning that a broad civil war could lead to a resurgence of “terrorist” groups.
This live blog is now closed. These were the updates for Sunday, September 5:
Taliban not in mood to compromise: Ahmed Rashid
Pakistani author and journalist Ahmed Rashid, who has written several books on the Taliban told Al Jazeera that it’s clear the Taliban wants to set up a government of their own and they don’t want a broad-base government.
“Any hope of the Taliban conceding to a broad-base government – bringing in non-Taliban, outsiders into the government – that seems to be off now,” Rashid said.
“They have told Ahmad Massoud that they want to unify Afghanistan, they’re not going to tolerate what he’s asking for, which is a semi-autonomous region in the Panjshir Valley where these fighters are based.
“The Taliban said ‘We want to unify Afghanistan, we want nothing to do with your autonomous suggestion.’ It looks like the fighting is going to continue,” Rashid said.
NRF spokesman Fahim Dashty killed in Panjshir
Sources have confirmed to Al Jazeera that NRF spokesman Mohammad Fahim Dashty, has been killed in the fighting in his native Panjshir province.
Dashty had a long relationship with the family of Ahmad Shah Massoud. He was with the elder Massoud during the September 9, 2001 suicide bombing that led to Massoud’s death.
In recent months, he became the spokesman for Ahmad Shah’s son, Ahmad, who was leading the resistance against the Taliban rule in Panjshir.
Dashty, who had founded a newspaper in Kabul after the US-led invasion of 2001, was also known for his work for journalists in Afghanistan.
Inside Story: Can Taliban ensure Kabul airport is safe to fly?
Reopening Kabul’s international airport is critical for the Taliban if it’s to stand a chance of rebuilding Afghanistan.
The free and secure movement of people and goods is highly risky – even in normal times.
But with the first domestic flight taking off less than a week since the Americans left the facility in shambles, there’s now hope.
Watch Al Jazeera’s Inside Story:
Blinken to intensify diplomacy in Qatar, Germany
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will aim to form a united front with allies this week on how to tackle the Taliban and ensure continued support for US bid to help evacuate Americans and at-risk Afghans who remained behind.
In a trip to Qatar and Germany, Blinken will be overlapping with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin who is also departing on Sunday for a wider Gulf visit covering Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain and Kuwait.
Dubbed as a “thank you” tour to the Gulf countries and Germany, who were instrumental in helping Washington evacuate thousands of people out of Kabul, Blinken will meet with senior Qatari officials in Doha and German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas at Ramstein air base, where he will also co-host a ministerial meeting on Afghanistan.
Qatar: A major transit point for new Afghan refugees
Qatar has become a major transit point for refugees fleeing Afghanistan and it is using accommodation meant for the FIFA World Cup next year to host them. Al Jazeera’s Assad Baig reports:
Opposition leader says he is ready for talks with Taliban
The leader of the Afghan opposition group resisting Taliban forces in the Panjshir Valley has said he has welcomed proposals from religious scholars for a negotiated settlement to end the fighting.
Ahmad Massoud, head of the National Resistance Front (NRF) of Afghanistan made the announcement on the group’s Facebook page. Earlier, Taliban forces said they had fought their way into the provincial capital of Panjshir after securing the surrounding districts.
“The NRF in principle agree to solve the current problems and put an immediate end to the fighting and continue negotiations,” Massoud said in the Facebook post.
“To reach a lasting peace, the NRF is ready to stop fighting on condition that Taliban also stop their attacks and military movements on Panjshir and Andarab,” he said, referring to a district in the neighbouring province of Baghlan.
Top Republican says Taliban holding Americans hostage
The top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee says some Americans who have been trying to get out of Afghanistan since the US military left are sitting in aeroplanes at an airport ready to leave but the Taliban are not letting them take off.
Republican Michael McCaul of Texas says there are six planes at the Mazar-i-Sharif airport with American citizens on board, along with their Afghan interpreters, and the Taliban is “holding them hostage” right now.
A worker at the Mazar-i-Sharif airport confirmed several aircraft he believes were chartered by the US are parked at the airport. The Taliban has prevented them from leaving, saying they wanted to check the documents of those on board, many of whom do not have passports or visas, the worker said. The airport official did not want to be identified because of the sensitivity of the subject.
McCaul, speaking on Fox News Sunday, says the Taliban has made demands. He gave no specifics but said he was worried “they’re going to demand more and more, whether it be cash or legitimacy as the government of Afghanistan”.
Opposition leader welcomes proposal to end fighting
Afghan opposition leader Ahmad Massoud has said on Facebook he welcomes a proposal from the Ulema religious council for talks to end fighting in the Panjshir Valley.
‘It’s painful to leave home while it’s burning’: Fleeing Kabul
One Afghan activist reflects on how he fled to safety, and the hopelessness he feels for his country and its people. Read the story here.
UN calls for end to violence
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called for an end to violence in Afghanistan amid fears of a new civil war.
“I call for an immediate end to violence, for the safety, security and rights of all Afghans to be respected, and for adherence to Afghanistan’s international obligations, including all international agreements to which it is a party,” Guterres said in a report to the Security Council this weekend.
The document, obtained by AFP news agency, has not yet been released publicly.
“I urge the Taliban and all other parties to exercise utmost restraint to protect lives and to ensure that humanitarian needs can be met,” Guterres said.
Germany wants to talk with Taliban about evacuations: Merkel
Germany wants to talk with the Taliban about how to evacuate its remaining local contract workers out of Afghanistan, Chancellor Angela Merkel has said, adding it was a good sign that the airport in Kabul could be used for evacuation flights again.
“We need to talk to the Taliban about how we can continue to get people who worked for Germany out of the country and to safety,” Merkel said.
Panjshir forces claim hundreds of Taliban captured
Taliban and opposition forces continue to battle to control the Panjshir Valley north of Kabul with resistance fighters saying they captured hundreds of Taliban troops.
The National Resistance Front (NRF) of Afghanistan, grouping forces loyal to local leader Ahmad Massoud, said on Sunday it surrounded “thousands of terrorists” in Khawak Pass and the Taliban abandoned vehicles and equipment in the Dashte Rewak area.
NRF spokesman Fahim Dashti added “heavy clashes” were going on.
Read more here.
Taliban says it has entered capital of holdout Afghan region
The Taliban has said its forces had fought their way into the provincial capital of Panjshir.
The police headquarters and district centre of Rukhah, adjacent to the provincial capital Bazarak, had fallen, and opposition forces had suffered numerous casualties, with large numbers of prisoners and captured vehicles, weapons and ammunition, Taliban spokesman Bilal Karimi said on Twitter.
Fighting was underway in Bazarak, he said. It was not possible to confirm the report, which was echoed on other Taliban Twitter accounts.
Afghan civil war ‘likely’: US general
The top US general has told US media that Afghanistan will “likely” erupt in civil war, warning such conditions could see a resurgence of “terrorist” groups if the Taliban is not able to consolidate power and establish effective governance.
“My military estimate … is that the conditions are likely to develop of a civil war,” General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told Fox News.
“That will then, in turn, lead to conditions that could, in fact, lead to a reconstitution of al-Qaeda or a growth of ISIS or other … terrorist groups”, Milley said.
Italy to transfer its Afghanistan embassy to Qatar
Italy plans to move its Afghan embassy to Doha, Qatar, Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs Luigi Di Maio said, the latest Western country to set up its diplomatic mission outside Afghanistan since the Taliban takeover.
Many diplomats have flown to the Gulf state, which has hosted the Taliban’s political office since 2013, after evacuating Kabul late last month.
China, Iran, Pakistan, Russia and Turkey have kept their embassies in the Afghan capital open.
NRF reportedly captures hundreds of Taliban fighters
The National Resistance Front (NRF) of Afghanistan, a grouping of forces loyal to Ahmad Massoud in Panjshir Valley, says it surrounded “thousands of terrorists” in Khawak Pass and the Taliban has abandoned vehicles and equipment in the Dashte Rewak area.
NRF spokesman Fahim Dashti said “heavy clashes” were going on in the region.
Al Jazeera’s Charles Stratford, based in the capital, Kabul, reported that sources on the ground said hundreds of Taliban fighters had been taken prisoner.
Read more here
Pope hopes many countries take Afghan refugees
Pope Francis says he is praying that many countries take Afghan refugees and, in an apparent reference to the Taliban’s past restrictions on schooling for women, that it is essential that young Afghans receive an education.
“In these moments of upheaval, in which Afghans are seeking refuge, I pray for the most vulnerable among them,” he told hundreds of people in St Peter’s Square for his weekly blessing.
Qatar to operate daily aid flights to Afghanistan
Qatar has flown humanitarian aid into Kabul and says it will operate daily aid flights to Afghanistan over the next few days, providing much-needed supplies following a hiatus in much Western aid due to the Taliban’s takeover last month.
Qatar has emerged as a key interlocutor between Western nations and the Taliban, after developing its ties to the group through hosting its political office since 2013.
A Qatari aid flight carrying medical supplies and food products arrived in Kabul on Saturday and Qatar’s ambassador to Afghanistan, Saeed bin Mubarak al-Khayarin, was at the airport for its arrival, the Qatari foreign ministry said.