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Anti-Taliban leader says resistance fighters could return at ‘any time’

Ahmad Wali Massoud, uncle of National Resistance Front leader, says thousands of forces in Panjshir Valley are ‘still alive’

A boy peddles past a wall painting with a portrait of late Afghan commander Ahmad Shah Massoud in Kabul on September 8, 2021. (Aamir QURESHI / AFP)
A boy peddles past a wall painting with a portrait of late Afghan commander Ahmad Shah Massoud in Kabul on September 8, 2021. (Aamir QURESHI / AFP)

GENEVA, Switzerland — Thousands of fighters opposed to the Taliban can return “anytime” in the Panjshir Valley, said the uncle of a commander who led fierce battles against the Islamists, appealing on Tuesday for international support for their cause.

Ahmad Wali Massoud was speaking in Switzerland, one day after the Taliban claimed total control over Afghanistan, declaring that they had won the battle against resistance forces in the mountainous Panjshir Valley, northeast of Kabul.

“We still have thousands of fighters in the valley, and any time they can come back and you will be witnessing that one,” Massoud told a symposium in Geneva. “Yes, we have been wounded and we have been really wounded, but we have not died, we are still alive,” he added.

Massoud is brother of the late Ahmad Shah Massoud, the legendary anti-Soviet and anti-Taliban commander assassinated by Al-Qaeda days before the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States.

Shah Massoud’s son, Ahmad Massoud, led resistance to the Taliban in the Panjshir Valley.

On Monday, the Taliban said it had won that battle in what was the last remaining holdout against their rule. The group released a video of their flag being raised over the governor’s house in Panjshir.

Afghan resistance movement and anti-Taliban uprising forces take part in a military training at Malimah area of Dara district in Panjshir province on September 2, 2021 as the valley remains the last major holdout of anti-Taliban forces. (Ahmad SAHEL ARMAN / AFP)

“Panjshir is not only resistance, [it] is a cause, an international cause,” Massoud told the symposium. “We are resisting for our own right, for the freedom, for democracy, for the human rights.”

“Probably this is the last opportunity that we can see to really fight terrorism inside Afghanistan,” he added, saying: “That’s why we should not lose the resistance.”

The National Resistance Front (NRF) in Panjshir — made up of anti-Taliban militia and former Afghan security forces — on Sunday acknowledged suffering major battlefield losses and called for a ceasefire.

But on Monday the group said in a tweet that its fighters were still present in “strategic positions” in the valley.

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