The Taliban said on Monday they have taken control of Panjshir province north of Kabul, the last holdout of anti-Taliban forces in the country. This also the only province the Taliban had not seized during their blitz across Afghanistan last month. Pictures on social media showed Taliban members standing in front of the gate of the Panjshir provincial governor’s compound. However there was no immediate word from Ahmad Massoud, the leader of the opposition group resisting Taliban forces.
Taliban forces said had entered deep into Panjshir Valley on Sunday amid calls for a ceasefire from Afghan religious scholars. Intense fighting between the Taliban and the National Resistance Front of Afghanistan in Panjshir began last week. This as US forces officially completed their withdrawal and ended a two-decade presence on Afghan soil. Similarly as the fighting continued, religious scholars who before the Taliban takeover were in the Kabul chapter of Afghanistan’s Ulema Council, called on both sides to return to negotiations.
While seizing Panjshir would give the Taliban complete control of Afghanistan. Afghanistan has been without a government since President Ashraf Ghani fled the country as the Taliban entered Kabul on Aug. 15. The power vacuum threw Afghanistan’s economy into disarray, as most payments to the country, which for the past two decades has depended on foreign aid, have been suspended. Plans to unveil a new government postponed as the Taliban waited for Panjshir to fall, sources say.