On Monday night, as US soldiers left Afghanistan after a 20-year conflict, Taliban forces clashed with militia fighters in the Panjshir valley north of Kabul, killing eight people, according to a representative of the biggest anti-Taliban opposition group.
Since the fall of Kabul on August 15, Panjshir has been the sole province to hold out against the Taliban, despite combat between Taliban and local militia forces in neighboring Baghlan province.
The combat took place on the western entrance to the valley, where the Taliban attacked NRF positions, according to National Resistance Forces spokesman Fahim Dashti, a militia allied to local commander Ahmad Massoud.
According to Reuters, the attack, which may have been a ruse to test the valley’s defenses, was repelled, with eight Taliban dead and a comparable number injured, as well as two NRF personnel wounded.
A Taliban spokesman could not be reached for comment right away.
Massoud, the son of former anti-Soviet mujahideen commander Ahmad Shah Massoud, has amassed a force of tens of thousands in the Panjshir valley, made up of local militias and army and special forces remnants.
He has stated that if his province in the small and rocky valley is invaded, his forces will fight back, but he has also urged for a diplomatic settlement with the Taliban.
Although a large force of Taliban fighters has been deployed to the valley, the two sides have so far avoided fighting by engaging in negotiations.
After the final US troops left Afghanistan after 20 years of war, the Taliban declared “complete freedom” and celebrated with gunshots that resonated throughout Kabul.
According to the Associated Press, Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid announced early Tuesday that “American soldiers fled the Kabul airport, and our people gained full independence.”