The Taliban released new images of the Panjshir Valley, in which fighters occupy the Mausoleum of Massoud, leader of the resistance to the Soviet invasion in the 1980s and the extremist group in the 1990s.
The region was the only one of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces that still resisted the Taliban for the second time, but the extremist group announced on Monday (6) that it had conquered the region.
The National Resistance Front (FNR), currently headed by Massoud’s son, denied taking the province and said it held “strategic positions” and would continue fighting.
But pictures show that, in addition to the Massoud Mausoleum, the Taliban also control the gate of the Panjshir, the main entrance to the valley. (see the video above and the photo below).
Taliban soldier guards Panjshir Gate in Panjshir Province, northeastern Afghanistan, September 8, 2021 — Photo: Mohammad Asif Khan/AP
Taliban interview at the mausoleum
Members of the extremist group told the press at Massoud’s Mausoleum that “this whole area is under Taliban control now.”
In a short interview, they promised to respect the population of Panjshir, including women and children, and to give financial aid of 5,000 Afghanis (about R$300) to encourage the return of citizens. who fled the province because of clashes with the FNR.
According to Ruptly news agency, the images and the interview were recorded on Monday (6).
In the Mausoleum of Massoud are the remains of the legendary commander Ahmad Shah Massoud, the “Lion of Panjshir”, hero of the resistance to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan between 1979 and 1989 and who also did not succumb to the first Taliban government, between 1996 and 2001.
The photo below shows the Panjshir River Valley from the mausoleum of Ahmad Shah Massoud:
View of the Panjshir river valley, in photo of May 21, 2011, taken from the viewpoint of the tomb of Ahmad Shah Massoud. An engineering student at the University of Kabul, Massoud became a military leader who played an important role in the expulsion of the Soviet army from Afghanistan — Photo: Master Sgt. Michael O’Connor
To this day the province of Panjshir, which means “Five Lions”, is littered with Soviet armored carcasses destroyed in unsuccessful battles to conquer it. It is a steep, mountainous and difficult to access valley that is about a two-hour drive from the capital Kabul.
Ahmad Shah Massoud, who earned the nickname “Lion of Panjshir”, was assassinated by al-Qaeda in Takhar province two days before the September 11, 2001 attacks — death who turned 20 yesterday, Thursday (9).
Due to common enemies (the Taliban and al-Qaeda), the province of Panjshir served as a stronghold of the Northern Alliance, an Afghan armed group that allied with the United States during the invasion of the country after the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and to the Pentagon.
Massoud is the father of Ahmad Massoud, who followed in his footsteps and now leads the FNR (see the video below). At this time, the whereabouts of Massoud son is unknown.
VIDEO: Who is Ahmad Massoud, who could become leader of Taliban resistance in Afghanistan
Massoud was 12 years old when his father was killed and graduated abroad. He studied War Studies at King’s College and had military training at the Royal Academy at Sandhurst, both in the UK.
Now, at 32, he leads the FNR rebels alongside former Vice President Amrullah Saleh, who was one of Massoud senior’s closest advisers and says he is the country’s “legitimate interim president.”
In a 19-minute audio message released on Monday, Massoud called the Afghans to insurrection: “Wherever you are, inside or out [do Panjshir], I invite you to start a national revolt for the dignity, freedom and prosperity of our country”.
Ahmad Massoud, son of anti-Soviet resistance hero Ahmad Shah Massoud, who was killed by the Taliban in 2001, asks for foreign help to organize resistance to the extremist group from Panjshir province in Afghanistan. Photo of September 5, 2019. — Photo: Mohammad Ismail/Reuters