Afghanistan rebels make their final stand against Taliban: 'We will not surrender'

AFGHAN rebels led by the man dubbed the Lion of Panjshir are making a last desperate stand against the Taliban in the Panjshir valley north of the capital of Kabul, the last province of Afghanistan holding out against it.

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But there were conflicting reports, with rebels denying claims of victory, and insisting they would never give up the fight. One commander claimed: “By the grace of Allah Almighty, we are in control of the entire .

Deafening volleys of celebratory gunfire resounded all over Kabul and Facebook accounts were full of mentions of the fall of Panjshir.

However, it was not immediately possible to confirm the reports, which if true would give the Taliban complete control of Afghanistan, something they did not achieve when they first ruled the country between 1996 and 2001.

Former Vice President Amrullah Saleh, one of the leaders of the opposition forces, denied his side had given up.

Afghanistan Panjshir

An Afghan resistance movement and anti-Taliban uprising forces take a position during a patrol (Image: GETTY)

Ahmad Massoud

Ahmad Massoud is leading the rebel forces (Image: GETTY)

In a video clip posted to Twitter by the BBC, he said: “There is no doubt we are in a difficult situation.

“We are under invasion by the Taliban.”

However, he added: “We have held the ground, we have resisted.

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Afghanistan Panjshir

Afghan resistance movement and anti-Taliban uprising forces in Panjshir Valley (Image: GETTY)

“We will not surrender, we are standing for Afghanistan.”

Several other resistance leaders also dismissed reports of the fall of Panjshir, where thousands of fighters from regional militias and remnants of the old government’s forces had gathered.

Ahmad Massoud, who is leading the forces, is the son of Ahmad Shah Massoud, the original “Lion of Panjshir” and the former leader of the Northern Alliance, who was murdered by the Taliban almost exactly 20 years ago.


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Ahmad Shah Massoud

Ahmad Shah Massoud, the original Lion of Panjshir (Image: GETTY)

Afghanistan Panjshir

Afghan resistance movement and anti-Taliban uprising forces rest during a patrol (Image: GETTY)

The UK-educated younger Massoud, widely seen as having inherited the title of Lion of Panjshir himself, said: “News of Panjshir conquests is circulating on Pakistani media. This is a lie.”

There had been reports of heavy fighting and casualties in the valley, which is walled off by mountains except for a narrow entrance and had held out against Soviet occupation as well as the previous Taliban government that was ousted in 2001.

Meanwhile, US-trained Afghan pilots who flew 46 military planes out of the country before the Taliban seized Kabul on August 15 questioned when they would be allowed to leave the Uzbekistan camp where they were being held.

Afghanistan Taliban

An anti-Taliban resistance fighter in Khenj District in Panjshir province (Image: GETTY)

Afghanistan conflict timeline

Afghanistan conflict timeline (Image: Express)

They said: “We are kind of like in jail.”

The Taliban seized Kabul on August 15 after rapid advances across Afghanistan.

Earlier, Taliban sources said the group’s co-founder Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar would lead a new Afghan government set to be announced soon.

Taliban Afghanistan

Still frame from an undated video shows people next to Humvees adorned with Taliban flags (Image: Reuters)

Its immediate priority may be to avert the collapse of an economy grappling with drought and the ravages of a 20-year conflict that killed around 240,000 Afghans before US forces completed a tumultuous pullout on August 30.

Afghanistan is facing not only humanitarian disaster but also threats to its security from rival jihadist groups.

These include a local offshoot of Islamic State which was blamed for the twin suicide bombings last week, which claimed the lives of an estimated 190 people including 13 US Marines.

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