– We will never give up the fight for God, freedom and justice.
It wrote Ahmad Massoud, the leader of the group fighting the Taliban in a message on Facebook Saturday.
“The people will always trust God and will continue to build a prosperous, free and independent Afghanistan,” he wrote.
Massoud is the son of the former resistance hero, Ahmad Shah Massoud, who fought against the Russians in the 80s and the Taliban in the 90s.
He now leads the group The National Resistance Front, which fortifies itself in the Panjshir Valley, the very last bulwark in the fight against the Taliban.
Large mountain areas
The valley stretches along Panjshir province, and is surrounded by high mountain peaks that make it very difficult for foreign forces to enter.
Therefore, neither the Russians nor the Taliban have managed to take the province.
The people who live in the valley are mostly Tajiks.
But after the Taliban took power, many Afghan government soldiers fled there.
Based on information NRK has received from commanders in the resistance movement, there may now be between 10,000 and 15,000 soldiers in the area.
The leaders who have ruled Panjshir for the past 20 years have turned the valley into a large weapons depot with weapons depots in caves in the mountains.
Sources in the group tell NRK that they have so many weapons that they can continue to fight the Taliban for ten years.
The soldiers who fled into the valley also brought military equipment and reinforcements to the resistance group.
Cut internet and phone lines
On Saturday, both sides claim over NRK that they have made progress in the valley, and that the opponent has suffered heavy losses.
There have been intense fights between the parties over the last five days.
It is very difficult to verify the information from the area, as the Taliban has cut off both the internet connection and the telephone lines during the offensive.
NRK has therefore for several days struggled to get through to sources in Panjshir
The commanders inside communicate via satellite phones and shortwave radios.
And NRK responds with voice messages:
– The Taliban has attacked us. We are in Panjshir and defending our province against the terrorists in the Taliban, says Commander Ibn Amin to NRK.
He claims that the Taliban have lost as many as 2,000 soldiers. More than they have lost in recent years.
– The fights are very tough, but we do not give up, he says.
Sent in suicide bombers
The commander draws particular attention to tough fighting in the Khavak district that was briefly taken over the Taliban yesterday, before the resistance movement pushed them back.
The Taliban sent in 1,000 suicide bombers from its dreaded Red Brigade. As these tried to penetrate deeper into Panjshir, we blew up a bridge they had to cross. Then we saw that many of them were blown to smithereens.
NRK has received video clips of what shows that Taliban fighters have been captured inside Panjshir.
We have also been sent strong images of dead Taliban fighters attached to the hood of a car, while people beat them with sticks. And we have seen video clips of hundreds of young men in the valley getting ready for battle.
On Friday, there were unconfirmed reports that the Taliban had taken control of the area, and Taliban soldiers in Kabul celebrated by firing shots into the air.
At least 17 people died after being hit by the shots, according to Afghan news agencies.
But the resistance group denies that the Taliban have taken control of the valley.
The Taliban claim they are inside the valley
A Taliban spokesman told NRK that they have managed to penetrate defensive positions inside Panjshir, and that they are now deep in the valley.
“We have forces that have entered via Badakhshan province, and we have taken over two of eight districts,” Zabiullah Mujahid told NRK.
He will not comment on how many fighters the Taliban have lost.
Mujahid further says that the entire province is now besieged by the Taliban, and that no one enters or leaves without the Taliban’s approval.
NRK has also spoken to another source in the Taliban, who will not be named.
He says the negotiations on the group’s surrender collapsed because they came with unrealistic demands.
Two demands are specifically mentioned: That the resistance group in Pansjir demanded to be allowed to keep their weapons, and that they demanded to get a third of the power in a future government.
Since the Tajiks do not make up a third of the Afghan population, the Taliban considered the demands absurd, and therefore launched an offensive.
Finally, he says that the Taliban can take Panjshir within 48 hours, but that they do not want civilians to suffer, and therefore proceed cautiously.
Surrounded by the Taliban
Commander Ibn Amin in the resistance group tells NRK that they are now surrounded from all sides.
– They control all roads and access roads in and out of the province, he says.
– Anyone who tries to get out is stopped by the Taliban. They are questioned, they check ID papers and they go through their mobile phones to find out if you are a warrior or a civilian.
“It is almost impossible for people in Panjshir to get out of the province because of the Taliban,” he said.
Says he is now president
Former Vice President Amrullah Saleh released a video yesterday in which he denies reports that he has left the country and says that he is now the legal ruler in Afghanistan.
According to the constitution, it is the vice president who will take over, if the president can no longer rule.
Saleh refuses to acknowledge that the Taliban have taken over the country:
– To all of you who claim that I have fled the country, I am in Panjshir, leading the fight against the Taliban terrorists and their foreign supporters.
Amrullah Saleh says he is now officially president of Afghanistan.