Taliban claims ‘victory’ in last remaining rebel stronghold – but resistance hits back

Abandoned US weapons to allow Taliban to 'rule with iron fist'

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On Monday, the Taliban claimed they have taken control of Panjshir, the last rebel stronghold in Afghanistan. However, rebel leaders in the province have said they are still holding out despite an onslaught from the militant fighters.

In a statement, Taliban chief spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said the militants have “completely captured” the Panjshir Valley.

He said: “With this victory, our country is completely taken out of the quagmire of war.”

After the Taliban claimed victory, at least 17 people were reported to have been killed and more than 40 injured in celebratory gunfire in Kabul.

Gulzada Sangar, spokesperson for an area hospital in the provincial capital of Jalalabad said at least 14 people were injured in celebratory firing in Nangarhar province.

Mr Mujahid rebuked militants and called on them to stop the firing after the claimed victory

He posted on Twitter: “Avoid shooting in the air and thank God instead.

“Bullets can harm civilians, so don’t shoot unnecessarily.”

However, sources in Afghanistan have been unable to verify the Taliban’s claim of victory in Panjshir.

Rebel leaders denied that they had lost control of Panjshir, where thousands of fighters massed after the Taliban took Kabul.

Former vice president Amrullah Saleh, now a rebel leader, told the BBC the resistance fighters had “held the ground”.

He added: “There is no doubt we are in a difficult situation. We are under invasion by the Taliban…

“I am here with my soil, for my soil and defending its dignity.”

Panjshir has been witnessing heavy fighting between the resistance forces and Taliban since they captured the capital city of Kabul on August 15.

National Resistance Front of Afghanistan (NRFA) chief Ahmad Massou called for a ceasefire on Sunday after admitting resistance forces have suffered heavy losses.

Salahuddin Rabbani, the head of the second-largest political party in Afghanistan Jamiat Islami, also warned the resistance can spread to the rest of Afghanistan if differences are not resolved through negotiations.

He said in a video clip there is no foreign soldier in Afghanistan and there remains no pretext for the Taliban to wage war, and added: “This is not the war of yours nor this is in favour of you and your people.

“You may have understood your position in terms of politics and power in the past two weeks.

“The Taliban should seek the resolution of differences through negotiations and ultimately shape a government which is inclusive and all the people of Afghanistan have to say in the government.”

It comes as the UK has been accused of leaving asylum seekers “in limbo” after refusing amnesty for more than 3,000 Afghans who had already reached the country and were awaiting decisions on their claims.

Foreign secretary Dominic Raab also returned from Islamabad, Pakistan, after talking with Pakistani counterpart Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi, prime minister Imran Khan and the country’s army chief.

He was in the country to try to secure safe passage for Britons and Afghans with ties to the UK who remain stuck in Afghanistan.

He earlier visited Doha, the Qatari capital, where he called for an international coalition to be formed to exert a “moderating influence” on the Taliban.

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