The Taliban has taken complete control of Panjshir province, the last area in Afghanistan held by resistance forces, the group’s spokesman said on Monday, as it cemented its control of the country three weeks after taking over Kabul.
“With this victory, our country is completely taken out of the quagmire of war,” chief spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said.
Pictures on social media on Monday showed Taliban members standing in front of the gate of the Panjshir provincial governor’s compound.
The National Resistance Front (NRF), the anti-Taliban forces in Panjshir Valley, pledged to carry on fighting. The NRF said it was present in “strategic positions” across the valley, adding “the struggle against the Taliban and their partners will continue”.
Earlier on Monday, the NRF acknowledged suffering considerable battlefield losses and called for a ceasefire, as US Secretary of State Antony Blinken flew to Qatar to try and handle the chaotic aftermath of the US withdrawal from Afghanistan.
The NRF proposed in a statement “that the Taliban stop its military operations in Panjshir … and withdraw its forces”.
“In return, we will direct our forces to refrain from military action,” said the statement, according to a report by the AFP news agency.
The NRF includes local fighters loyal to Ahmed Massoud, the son of the famous anti-Soviet and anti-Taliban commander Ahmad Shah Massoud, as well as remnants of the Afghan military that retreated to the Panjshir Valley, about 125km (78 miles) north of the capital Kabul.
The group said separately in a tweet on Sunday that spokesman Fahim Dashty, a well-known Afghan journalist, and General Abdul Wudod Zara had been killed in the latest fighting.
The NRF has promised to fight the Taliban but also said it was willing to negotiate with the group. But initial contact did not lead to a breakthrough.
The Panjshir Valley is famed for being the site of resistance to Soviet forces in the 1980s and the Taliban in the late 90s.
Former Vice President Amrullah Saleh, who is holed up in Panjshir alongside Ahmad Massoud, has warned of a humanitarian crisis, with thousands “displaced by the Taliban onslaught”.
The Taliban is yet to finalise its new government after rolling into Kabul three weeks ago.