Al-Qaeda joined Taliban in Panjshir valley offensive: Sources

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Al-Qaeda joined the Taliban in the group’s offensive on the Panjshir valley on Thursday, Ahmad Massoud’s forces say, according to Al Arabiya sources.

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Both sides have suffered casualties during fighting in recent days as the hardline group that has seized most of the country attempts to take the last pocket of resistance to its rule.

Militiamen and remnants of the previous Afghan government gathered in the Panjshir valley after the fall of Kabul on August 15.

The mountainous region is home to Ahmad Massoud, son of commander Ahmad Shah Massoud – a significant figure in resisting the 1979-89 soviet occupation.

Resistance forces have been hiding out in the valley that has been historically difficult to attack due largely to its geography.

Efforts to negotiate a settlement appear to have broken down, with each side blaming the other for the failure of talks as the Taliban prepared to announce a government.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said on Thursday the group’s fighters had entered Panjshir and taken control of some territory.

“We started operations after negotiation with the local armed group failed,” he said. “They suffered heavy losses.”

However a spokesman for the National Resistance Front of Afghanistan, a grouping of resistance forces, said it had full control of all passes and entrances and had driven back efforts to take Shotul district at the entrance to the valley.

“The enemy made multiple attempts to enter Shotul from Jabul-Saraj, and failed each time,” he said, referring to a town in the neighboring Parwan province.

The spokesman said NRFA forces had also killed large numbers of Taliban fighters on two fronts since clashes first broke out earlier in the week.

With Reuters

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