In an audio message sent to media, National Resistance Front commander Ahmad Massoud said: “Wherever you are, inside or outside, I call on you to begin a national uprising for the dignity, freedom and prosperity of our country.”
Following the withdrawal of almost all remaining US and other Western troops in July, the Taliban’s conquest of Afghanistan gathered pace, ending with the fall of Kabul on Aug. 15.
After the capital’s collapse, thousands of former Afghan army and special forces soldiers massed in Panjshir, joining local militia groups under the leadership of Massoud’s son, Ahmad Massoud, and former Afghan vice president Amrullah Saleh.
Armed with weapons including helicopters, they held out against the Taliban, refusing to surrender, although Massoud called for peace talks with the aim of winning autonomy for Panjshir.
Those talks led to nothing, with each side blaming the other for their failure, and days of clashes led to heavy casualties on both sides.
After the Taliban claimed it had captured Panjshir, Massoud tweeted to say he was safe, without revealing his location. Saleh’s whereabouts are also unknown.