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Heavy fighting reported in last Afghanistan province not under Taliban control

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Heavy fighting was reported in the last Afghan province that has not been seized by the Taliban on Tuesday night as the insurgent group works to tighten its grip on country after the U.S. troop withdrawal. 

An official from the Panjshir Valley-based resistance movement said at least 17 of its fighters were killed in clashes with the Taliban but that twice as many in the insurgent group died, The Washington Post reported.

A Taliban official, however, told the Post that the group had seized at least one district and that the areas still left standing would soon be taken over.

According to The Wall Street Journal, the insurgent group claimed they had seized control of the Shotul District in Panjshir.

Fighting also reportedly broke out in the provinces of Wardak and Daikundi, which are where large groups of Hazards, made up of mostly Shiite minorities, have established armed militias.

Discussions for a peaceful resolution in the areas that have withstood the Taliban’s military offensive broke down on Monday, according to the Post.

Amir Khan Muttaqi, a senior Taliban official who was in talks with former government officials in Kabul, said on Wednesday that the group’s conquest was all but complete.

“Now that all of Afghanistan is at peace, and the mujahedeen are victorious, why should the people of Panjshir suffer?” Muttaqi said in an audio message circulated on social media, according to the Journal.

He sent a message to resistance groups who are trying to keep hold of the last Afghan districts not under Taliban rule, telling them “enough is enough.”

“Those who want to keep fighting should know that enough is enough. You couldn’t do anything with the support of NATO and the U.S. through all these years,” Muttaqi said, according to the Journal.

“You should not continue fighting. Join the Islamic Emirate,” he added, referring to the Taliban’s name for the country. 

Asadullah Asadi, a spokesperson for militia leader Abdul Ghani Alipur in the Behsud district of Wardak, said the situation in the region is “very unstable and volatile.”

“We, the resistance group, have moved to valleys in the mountains and our relationship with the Taliban is getting worse,” Asadi said.

“The Taliban wanted us to surrender, which is not acceptable for us,” he added.

The clashes in Panjshir Valley come after the Taliban announced last week that the insurgent group was sending fighters to the area.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Rep. Mike Waltz (R-Fla.) last week called on President Biden to recognize individuals from the opposition groups as the “legitimate government representatives” in the country and note that the Taliban takeover is “illegal.”

Clashes were reported in the province one day after the U.S. completed its withdrawal from Afghanistan after 20 years in the country, bringing an end to America’s longest war.

The Taliban declared victory in Afghanistan on Tuesday after the last U.S. military plane departed the country, with an official from the group claiming that “Afghanistan is finally free.”
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