The Taliban issued a statement Monday claiming that they have taken control of Panjshir province, which is located north of Kabul that served as the staging ground of the country’s top resistance force.
Photos emerged on social media that showed members of the Taliban standing at the gate of the provincial governor’s compound, Reuters reported. The province was the last holdout of anti-Taliban forces in the country and the only province the Taliban had not seized during their sweep last month.
The anti-Taliban fighters had been led by the former vice president and the son of the iconic anti-Taliban fighter Ahmad Shah Massoud who was killed just days before the 9/11 attacks in the United States.
Panjshir has been the focus of a days-long assault by Taliban fighters from “several directions,” according to the Washington Post. The paper reported that both sides claimed victory during these clashes.
“The Taliban army has been hardened with 20 years of war, and make no mistake, the Taliban trained an army,” Bill Roggio, the managing editor of Long War Journal, tweeted on Sunday, according to the report.
Ahmed Masoud, the leader of the National Resistance Front of Afghanistan, reportedly announced earlier that his group was ready to stop the fighting and hold talks if the Taliban withdrew from the area.
Ahmad Wali Massoud, a former Afghan ambassador to Britain, told the Post last week that there seems to be little interest from the Taliban to see the negotiating table.
“They think that they have captured Afghanistan and so, therefore, Panjshir must surrender. But the people who are fighting want to defend their homeland, their territory, their families and their lives. What’s happening in Panjshir is a resistance for all of Afghanistan.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report