Fierce firefights erupted in Afghanistan turning the northern Panjshir Valley province into a battleground between the Taliban group and the resistance forces on Thursday night, an official source from within the group revealed.
The Panjshir Valley is a region found in the northern parts of Kabul and is a mountainous, inaccessible area. It is also the last major holdout fighting against the insurrection group's rule of the country. Forces in the region have a long history of fighting and resisting the militant group.
Taliban and Resistance Force Face Off
For the past two weeks, Taliban forces and members of the National Resistance Front (NRF) have been engaged in sporadic gunfights. For several weeks, the Taliban have been deploying large groups of its forces in and around the Panjshir province. On Monday, the group said they have successfully taken control of three districts in the valley.
Late on Thursday, forces from the two groups entered overnight clashes that were very intense, the NRF source said. They revealed that the Taliban were trying to use all of their military might to get into the region and take control, CNN reported.
An NRF spokesperson, Fahim Dashti, said earlier in an audio message on Thursday that the Taliban lost 40 of their members during their assault of the region. Another spokesperson, Ali Nazary, said that the militant group also lost a number of heavy equipment and weaponry that were destroyed during the encounters.
The forces in Panjshir include troops that traveled to the region after the Taliban took control of Kabul on Aug. 15, 2021. The fighters and local militia numbered several thousand and were remnants of army and special forces units from the country.
The son of a former Mujahideen commander, Ahmad Massoud, leads the resistance force that has been holding their ground in the valley that has made it difficult for the insurgent group to advance. Negotiation attempts between the two groups appear to have deteriorated with each side accusing the other of failing talks, Yahoo News reported.
Casualties on Both Sides
Zabihullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesman, said that some of the militant group's troops have successfully entered the region and taken control of some areas. "We started operations after negotiation with the local armed group failed. They suffered heavy losses," he said.
However, a spokesperson for the NRF said that the resistance had stationed firm defenses across all passes and entrances in the region and have successfully pushed back the Taliban from the Shotul district and have reclaimed the area. The spokesperson revealed that the NRF has suffered losses against fights with the militant group on two different fronts since the beginning of the encounters earlier this week.
Both groups have shared varying numbers on the actual extent of losses that each of them sustained amid the fighting. Neither of the two has provided evidence to support their claims of the casualties. The battles between the two groups came after negotiation attempts in the Panjshir Valley deteriorated as both sides claim the other did not want to partake in discussions, The Hill reported.