Taliban claims victory in Panjshir as it calls to end war

The group’s spokesman says it has taken control of the last holdout province, but opposition forces pledge to continue fighting.

Armored vehicles are seen in Panjshir Valley, north of Kabul, Afghanistan [File: Jalaluddin Sekandar/AP Photo]

The Taliban has claimed victory over opposition forces in the last holdout province of Panjshir, completing their takeover of Afghanistan three weeks after capturing Kabul.

“With this victory, our country is completely taken out of the quagmire of war,” chief spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said on Monday.

The anti-Taliban National Resistance Front (NRF) pledged to carry on fighting in Panjshir Valley, saying it is present in “strategic positions” and that “the struggle against the Taliban … will continue”.

The whereabouts of resistance leader Ahmed Massoud and Amrullah Saleh, the former vice president who had joined the resistance after the fall of Kabul, were not immediately known.

Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is in Qatar to discuss the chaotic aftermath of the US withdrawal from Afghanistan.

This live blog is now closed. Here were Monday’s updates:

Russia officials could attend swearing-in of future Afghan government: Lavrov

Russia’s foreign minister says officials from his country could attend a swearing-in ceremony for a new Afghanistan government if it is inclusive of all the country’s ethnic groups.

“We want to support the government-forming process if this government reflects the whole spectrum of the Afghan society, including the Taliban and other ethnic groups, not just Pashtuns, such as Uzbeks, Hazaras and Tajiks,” Sergey Lavrov said.

Qatar’s Emir discusses Afghanistan with US secretaries of state and defence

The Emir of Qatar and the visiting US secretaries of state and defence discussed developments in Afghanistan and efforts to enhance security there, the Emir’s court said, according to the Reuters news agency.

The Emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, met US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin after their arrival in Doha earlier in the day.

The visit came with Washington seeking support for the evacuation of Americans and at-risk Afghans left behind in Afghanistan after the Taliban takeover and to build a consensus among allies on how to respond to the new Afghanistan rulers.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is welcomed upon his arrival by Qatar’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs Director of Protocol Ambassador Ibrahim Fakhroo, at Old Airport in Doha, Qatar, September 6, 2021 [Olivier Douliery/Pool via Reuters]

Pakistan army chief urges Afghan leadership to resolve issues peacefully

Afghanistan’s leadership should try to amicably resolve all issues related to forming a stable and representative government in Afghanistan, Pakistan’s army chief has said.

General Qamar Javed Bajwa commented in a televised speech at a ceremony marking Defence Day of Pakistan, the day on which Pakistan claims its forces repulsed a 1965 Indian attack.

Bajwa also urged the United Nations and the international community to play positive roles for peace in Afghanistan.

“We also expect that the world will not abandon the Afghan people at this difficult time,” Bajwa said.

Concern grows for Panjshir residents as Taliban claims victory

For the last three weeks, Ahmad Massoud, the son of the late anti-Taliban commander Ahmad Shah Massoud, has been leading the armed resistance against Taliban rule in Panjshir, the only province to evade the Taliban’s rapid takeover of Afghanistan last month.

The 32-year-old, who was trained at the British military academy Sandhurst, is following in his father’s footsteps – the elder Massoud also led an armed resistance against Taliban rule in the 1990s.

But whereas the father’s resistance was able to relay constant updates in several languages, Ahmad’s National Resistance Front (NRF) has faced great difficulty in sending out information from the northeastern province since the Taliban cut off phone and Internet access last week.

Read more here.

NRF leader Ahmad Massoud has pledged to continue fight against the Taliban [File: Thomas Watkins/AFP]

Afghanistan T20 cricket tournament postponed: official

Afghanistan’s professional T20 cricket tournament, which was due to start on Friday, has been postponed, an official from the Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB) told Reuters.
The Shpageeza Cricket League was due to feature eight franchises – up from six in 2020 – including titleholders The Kabul Eagles.

Top Afghan players, including world number three T20 bowler, leg-spinner Rashid Khan, were set to play in the 15-day league, which was expected to be contested across the country.

However, after the Taliban seized control of Afghanistan on August 15, the future of many sporting events in the country remains uncertain.

Google locks Afghan gov’t emails to keep from Taliban: Report

Google has temporarily locked down an unspecified number of Afghan government email accounts, according to a person familiar with the matter, as fears grow over the digital paper trail left by former officials and their international partners.

In the weeks since the Taliban’s swift takeover of Afghanistan from a US-backed government, reports have highlighted how biometric and Afghan payroll databases might be exploited by the new rulers to hunt their enemies.

Read more here.

UK opposition leader criticises government’s withdrawal policy

The leader of the UK opposition, Keir Starmer, singled out the government’s handling of the Afghan withdrawal, saying a lack of planning and leadership had let down British troops and “left many behind to whom we owe so much”.

Speaking in Parliament, Starmer said the government’s actions had been “complacent and wrong,” by assuming there was no path to military victory for the Taliban in Afghanistan.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves 10 Downing Street to give a statement on Afghanistan at the Houses of Parliament, in London, Monday, September 6, 2021 [Matt Dunham/AP Photo]

UK premier says ‘proud of legacy’ in Afghanistan

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said the UK should be “proud of its legacy” in Afghanistan, despite the total takeover of the country by the Taliban followed by the chaotic withdrawal of British troops, nationals, and allies just afterwards.

In a statement delivered to the houses of parliament, Johnson commended the UK armed forces for bringing stability and peace to the central Asian nation as well as undertaking the UK’s largest post-World War II military evacuation, yet with only 15,000 Afghans having been relocated.

“If anyone is still tempted to say that we have achieved nothing in that country in 20 years, tell them that our armed forces and those of our allies enabled 3.6 million girls to go to school; tell them that this country and the Western world were protected from al-Qaeda in Afghanistan throughout that period, and tell them we have just mounted the biggest humanitarian airlift in recent history,” Johnson said.

Iran position on Afghanistan ‘unchanged’: analyst

Speaking to Al Jazeera from Tehran, an analyst with Al Jazeera’s Centre of Studies believes that despite “great concern” surrounding the Taliban offensive in Panjshir valley, Iran’s policy towards the country will remain “unchanged”.

“What Iran will do next, that will largely depend on what the Taliban is going to do and if it’s going to keep its promises,” Dareini told Al Jazeera via Skype.

Dareini said if Iran’s security and political interests were endangered, Iran would react “differently” and “strongly”.

“But as long as the Taliban keep their promises, Iran will prefer political engagement, rather than military conflict,” he added.

A view of a gate of the provincial governor’s office in Panjshir, in this picture uploaded to social media on September 6, 2021 [Reuters]

Concern, but ‘no alarmism’ needed on women’s rights: EU ambassador

The head of the European Delegation to Afghanistan on Monday said that there is a need for concern but “no alarmism” around the rights of women in Afghanistan after the Taliban takeover of the country.

Ambassador Andreas von Brandt participated in a meeting in Brussels by the Women’s Rights and Gender Equality and Subcommittee on Human Rights, which discussed risks faced by women and girls in Afghanistan under the Taliban.

Von Brandt said there was still room to influence steering Afghanistan towards “a moderate Islamic” country by making the Taliban stick to their commitments, and warned against making predictions based on fear and the past.

“What I meant by ‘no alarmism’ is to treat a political actor not by what the entity has said 25 years ago, but to look at what is happening now,” he told members of the European parliament.

He said the EU was in contact with the Taliban and prioritised allowing women to participate in its humanitarian and political work at the core of its requests.

Blinken in Doha for Afghan crisis talks with Qatar

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrived in Doha for crisis talks with the Qataris after the Taliban claimed to have full control over Afghanistan.

Shortly before landing, an official disclosed that four Americans had left Afghanistan with Taliban knowledge, in the first departures arranged by Washington since its chaotic military pullout.

The four US citizens left by land and were greeted by US diplomats, said the senior official, without specifying to which country they crossed, adding that “the Taliban did not impede them”.

UK vows to rescue over 300 Afghan support staff

The United Kingdom said it would do its utmost to rescue more than 300 Afghans who helped its armed forces but are now languishing under the new Taliban regime.

Addressing parliament, Prime Minister Boris Johnson failed to answer a question on how many British-Afghans remained after a hurried Western airlift was ended.

Thousands made it out from Kabul on packed Royal Air Force planes, but he said 311 people were left behind who are eligible for the UK’s Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy, such as interpreters.

Members of the British and US armed forces working at Kabul Airport [File: British Ministry of Defence/AFP]

Taliban capture of Panjshir Valley a ‘significant moment’: AJ correspondent

Al Jazeera’s Charles Stratford reporting from Kabul said the fall of Panjshir to the Taliban was a “very significant moment” for the group, and arguably for the Panjshiris, as well.

“The Taliban had failed up till today in gaining complete control of the Panjshir Valley and so did the Soviets,” Stratford said.

“It seems unlikely that any meaningful resistance against the Taliban is possible because it seems to have been a very convincing victory so far.”

Iran ‘strongly’ condemns Taliban offensive on Panjshir Valley

Iran has condemned the Taliban’s military offensive against holdout fighters in Afghanistan’s Panjshir Valley, as the group claimed it had taken control of the area.

“The news coming from Panjshir is truly worrying,” Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh told reporters. “The assault is strongly condemned.”

Iran had until now refrained from criticising the Taliban since it seized Kabul on August 15.

Fighters loyal to Ahmad Massoud, son of the late Ahmad Shah Massoud, take part in a training exercise, in Panjshir province, northeastern Afghanistan, Monday, August 30, 2021 [File: Jalaluddin Sekandar/AP Photo]

US helped family escape Afghanistan overland

The United States is confirming for the first time that it has helped a US citizen and family members to leave Afghanistan through an overland route to a neighbouring country.

A US official said that the citizen and the citizen’s children “successfully departed Afghanistan using an overland route” and were met by American Embassy staff at the border. The official would not speak to details of the evacuation or to the country in which they arrived, citing security reasons and the need to preserve the viability of the route for possible future efforts.

The evacuation is the first overland extraction the US government has confirmed since it ended its air evacuation effort last week with the final withdrawal of American forces from Afghanistan.

Turkish envoy, Taliban officials discuss Afghan situation

The Taliban said their officials held discussions on the situation in Afghanistan with Turkey’s ambassador to the country.

Suhail Shaheen, a Taliban spokesman, said on Twitter that Qari Din Mohammad Hanif, head of Taliban’s Political Office Department for Turkey and Russia, met with Turkish Ambassador Cihad Erginay in Kabul on Sunday.

“Both delegations discussed the current Afghan situation, issues related to the Kabul airport, bilateral relations and mutual cooperations,” he posted on Twitter.

Panjshir resistance leader calls for ‘national uprising’ in Afghanistan

The leader of the resistance movement in Afghanistan’s Panjshir Valley called for a “national uprising” against the Taliban.

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.”

Ahmad Massoud, son of the slain hero of the anti-Soviet resistance Ahmad Shah Massoud, in Bazarak, Panjshir province [File: Mohammad Ismail/Reuters]

Afghanistan vice president fled to Tajikistan, says Taliban

Reporting from Kabul, Al Jazeera’s Charlotte Bellis said that after Panjshir Valley, the last area that was under resistance forces as an anti-Taliban stronghold, came under Taliban control was the country’s vice president fled.

“The fate of Ahmad Massoud, who was the resistance leader in the Panjshir Valley remains unknown,” said Bellis.

“Meanwhile, the Taliban are saying the former Vice President Amrullah Saleh has fled to Tajikistan,” she added.

After the Taliban took control of Kabul, Afghan security and police forces fled to Panjshir and called themselves the National Resistance Front, as they promised to fight the Taliban.

Who controls Afghanistan?

The Taliban has taken complete control of Panjshir province, the last area in Afghanistan held by resistance forces, the group’s spokesman said, as it cemented its control of the country three weeks after taking over Kabul.

Meanwhile, the National Resistance Front (NRF) spokesman said the Taliban’s claim of victory was false and opposition forces continued to fight.

An overview of the Taliban's control of Afghanistan. The map which was once in several different shades of color to denote Taliban held areas and government areas, is now a single color. With the capture of Panjshir province, the the map is now complete.
Roger Helms/Afghanistan Analysts Network

Taliban provincial governor vows to fight ISIL

As a Taliban commander, he spent years battling the former Afghan government. Now, with his movement back in power, Mullah Neda Mohammad pledged to continue fighting against rival ISIL (ISIS).

“We are searching for individuals who are hiding,” Mohammad told AFP, claiming his forces have arrested 70 to 80 ISIL members since they took control of Nangarhar’s provincial capital Jalalabad, the country’s fifth-biggest city.

Following the Taliban’s victory in August, Mohammad took over as governor of Nangarhar province, home to the ISIL’s Afghanistan-Pakistan chapter’s stronghold.

Taliban commander Mullah Neda Mohammad at his office in Jalalabad [File: James Edgar/AFP]

Taliban tells Berlin it will welcome German companies, aid

The Taliban would welcome German investment in Afghanistan and help in areas including humanitarian aid, healthcare, education and infrastructure, the group’s spokesman told Bild newspaper.

Germany, acting in concert with the European Union, has laid out conditions to resume a diplomatic presence in Kabul and unfreeze development aid, urging the Taliban to respect human rights, particularly those of women.

“The German government could encourage its entrepreneurs to come and invest in our country,” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said in an interview with Bild published.

The Taliban would pave the way for investments and ensure companies’ security, he said.

Zabihullah Mujahid, Taliban spokesperson talks with journalists during a news conference in Kabul, Afghanistan [EPA]

New gov’t to be announced in ‘few days’ says Afghanistan

“The government will probably be a caretaker government for now, with room for reform, change and other fundamental steps,” Zabihullah Mujahid told a news conference in the capital Kabul.

“In the next few days, we will witness the announcement of the government,” he said, adding that elections were “not in sight for now”.

“The next government will decide how the next procedure will proceed,” said Mujahid.

Taliban says war must end in Afghanistan

“There is no excuse for the war to continue,” spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told a press conference in the capital Kabul.

“The country needs to move more towards stability. No one is allowed to create chaos in any corner of the country,” he added.

“We wanted to resolve the Panjshir issue through talks, we tried very hard. But some who had fled Kabul, carrying weapons and vehicles from the treasury, wanted to disturb the nation. They responded negatively to our delegations. Panjshir is in the hands of security forces,” said Mujahid.

Ahmad Massoud, the leader of the resistance forces, said in a Twitter message that he was safe.

Taliban ask former Afghan forces to integrate with new regime

The Taliban called on former members of the Afghan forces to integrate with the new rulers.

“The Afghan forces who were trained in the past 20 years will be asked to rejoin the security departments alongside Taliban members,” spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told a news conference in the capital Kabul.

The spokesman added that any rebellion against their rule would be “hit hard”, after earlier saying they had captured the Panjshir Valley.

“The Islamic Emirate is very sensitive about insurgencies. Anyone who tries to start an insurgency will be hit hard. We will not allow another,” Mujahid said.

British minister says was wrong on Afghan veterans taking their life

A British junior defence minister says he was wrong when he said some former British soldiers took their own lives in anger over the US-led withdrawal from Afghanistan.

“We’re looking very, very carefully at whether or not it is true that someone has taken their life in the last few days,” James Heappey, a junior defence minister, told BBC TV.

Heappey earlier told Sky News that some British Afghan war veterans had taken their own lives in devastation over the chaotic withdrawal of US-led forces and the Taliban victory. A spokesman for Britain’s defence ministry denied that veterans had taken their own lives due to the withdrawal.

Taliban claims ‘complete capture’ of Panjshir

The Taliban spokesman says it has taken complete control of Panjshir province, the last area held by resistance forces, as the group cements its control of the country three weeks after taking Kabul.

Meanwhile, the NRF spokesman said the Taliban’s claim of victory was false and opposition forces continued to fight.

Prior to the Taliban’s announcement, the NRF had acknowledged suffering considerable battlefield losses and called for a ceasefire.

Afghan resistance movement and anti-Taliban uprising forces take part in military training at Malimah area of Dara district in Panjshir, September 2 [Ahmad Sahel Arman/AFP]
Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies