Afghanistan conflict rekindles, claiming lives and sending civilians fleeing as Taliban battles Panjshir valley resistance

Afghanistan’s Taliban, which spent 20 years preventing the U.S.-backed authorities in Kabul as an insurgency, is now battling to defend its more and more draconian rule from resistance forces bent on reclaiming the nation from the Islamic hardliners. This newest section of battle, centered within the Panjshir and Andarab valleys north of Kabul, has taken a major toll already on each side — and on Afghan civilians.

Earlier this month the Nationwide Resistance Forces of Afghanistan (NRF) introduced a brand new navy operation in opposition to Taliban forces geared toward “liberating” the Panjshir and Andarab valleys.

The NRF is an alliance of anti-Taliban forces made up largely of former members of the nation’s navy and police, a lot of them educated by U.S. forces through the two-decade conflict. Shaped after Kabul fell to the Taliban final August, the NRF is led by Ahmad Massoud, son of the enduring Nineties anti-Taliban militia chief Ahmad Shah Massoud.

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The elder Massoud was killed by al Qaeda militants in Afghanistan simply earlier than the group carried out its September 11, 2001 terror assaults on the U.S.

The NRF, together with a number of smaller resistance teams, has vowed to “free Afghanistan” from the Taliban’s rule.

The Taliban shortly despatched forces as much as Panjshir to counter the NRF offensive, and the group’s leaders declare they captured dozens of NRF fighters earlier than declaring the scenario within the area “regular and peaceable” once more on Monday.

However each side claimed battlefield victories, with NRF spokesman Sibghatullah Ahmadi saying on Twitter late final week that a minimum of 18 Taliban fighters had been killed in two assaults in Panjshir province alone. He confirmed that the NRF had additionally sustained casualties.

The NRF’s commander in Panjshir, Khalid Amiry, stated Monday in a tweet that his troops had killed and wounded a minimum of 200 Taliban militants within the latest clashes. 

“After they misplaced the battle in opposition to the resistance forces, in retaliation they commit conflict crimes and crimes in opposition to humanity,” stated Amiry, including a name for an “neutral investigation” by international organizations into the Taliban’s actions within the area.

The Taliban wouldn’t affirm or deny causalities amongst its forces, however Zabihullah Mujahid, a spokesman for group’s central authorities in Kabul, tweeted a video (under) displaying a gaggle of unarmed males sitting in entrance of armed Taliban fighters. Mujahid claimed “a lot of insurgents in Dara district of Panjshir province surrendered their weapons and joined the forces of Islamic Emirate.”

NRF officers claimed the Taliban had truly rounded-up strange civilians in Panjshir to stage the video. 

CBS News couldn’t independently confirm the movies offered by the Taliban regime, or others that seem to point out atrocities by its fighters.

Movies shared on social media, together with some posted by Taliban militants, have proven different purported surrenders, together with individuals being overwhelmed and killed in Panjshir and Andarab. In a single graphic video, a Taliban fighter could be heard saying, “these are soiled Panjshirs,” as he walks over and spits on lifeless our bodies.

European Union Ambassador to Afghanistan Andreas Von Brandt stated in a tweet that he was “involved by the studies of killings of civilians and mistreatment in Panjshir” and he known as for “an overdue inclusive resolution in governing Afghanistan.”

“Many extraordinarily worrying movies, audios, and studies of violations from northern provinces of #panjshir #Takhar #Baghlan. Additional verification is required,” stated Richard Bennett, the United Nations particular rapporteur on Afghanistan, including that he was watching the scenario “carefully.”

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Jamil, a resident and shopkeeper in Panjshir province, advised CBS News in a telephone interview late final week that extra Taliban fighters had been nonetheless arriving each day. He stated residents would typically see visibly indignant Taliban members taking away their lifeless comrades.

“We do not need to face them once they’re indignant,” he stated.

Regardless of a Taliban commander within the area’s declare on Monday that the preventing had stopped and the scenario was “regular,” different residents advised French information company AFP that dozens of civilians had already fled Panjshir, afraid of getting caught up within the violence.

“We might solely choose up one or two gadgets of clothes,” Lutfullah Bari advised AFP, saying he’d fled with dozens of different residents and was now taking shelter with relations within the Kabul space.

Aimal Rahimi, one other civilian from Panjshir, advised AFP that individuals had been “afraid and escaping to avoid wasting their lives.”