Al Qaeda joins Taliban in Panjshir
September 3, 2021

Al Qaeda forces have reportedly linked up with the Taliban in the Panjshir Valley to fight against a building resistance, according to an unnamed source among Ahmad Massoud’s forces in contact with Al Arabiya.

“We started operations after negotiation with the local armed group failed,” Taliban spokesperson Zabiullah Mujahid said Thursday. “They suffered heavy losses.”

About 150km north of Kabul, the National Resistance Front of Afghanistan (NRFA) is building up their strength to defy Taliban governance. The possibility of a successful resistance was first met with a great deal of skepticism by the media, after reports of its formation began to slowly trickle out.

Rumors that Ahmad Massoud was leading a new resistance against the Taliban began circulating in the days leading up to, and immediately following, the Aug. 15 fall of Kabul. Massoud is the son of famed revolutionary Ahmad Shah Massoud, former leader of the United Islamic National Front for the Salvation of Afghanistan (The Northern Alliance).

Panjshir tomb of Ahmad Shah Massoud

A view of the outside of Ahmad Shah Massoud’s Tomb, May 21, 2011, Panjshir Province, Afghanistan. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Michael O’Connor)

Massoud is following in his father’s footsteps as he attempts to instill a similar resistance, in the very same region.

Squashing all doubts, the group’s successes have lent them significant credence in terms of their capability for effecting a reasonable, and multi-sided, conclusion to the Taliban’s recent takeover.

Panjshir River Valley

A scenic view of the Panjshir River Valley, May 21, 2011, Panjshir Province, Afghanistan. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Michael O’Connor)

Peace in Panjshir unlikely, for now

Spokesperson Mujahid also said on Thursday that the group’s fighters had entered Panjshir and taken control of some territory.

Despite the spokesman’s claims, a representative for the NRFA said it had full control of all entranceways into the valley. Regarding the group’s current operations, the representative claimed, “The enemy made multiple attempts to enter Shotul from Jabul-Saraj, and failed each time.”

The fighting between Al-Qaeda and Taliban forces, and the NRFA, continued throughout this week. The spokesperson for the NRFA who spoke with Al Arabiya claimed that NRFA forces had killed large numbers of Taliban fighters on two fronts, since the clashes broke out earlier in the week.

While both sides have publicly said that they would be open to a peaceful resolution, their actions seem to stray from that possibility. Speaking to Reuters, District commander of the militia, Sarman Harmeed, said, “If you want to enter Panjshir forcibly, or think that we will surrender to you, that is your dream and nothing else…We will never do that, we will defend not just Panjshir, we will even defend the whole of Afghanistan.”

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