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Stronger resistance built against Taliban

Militants say they won’t accept any extension to foreign troop withdrawal

Published : 23 Aug 2021 09:23 PM | Updated : 24 Aug 2021 12:25 AM

Fighters of National Resistance Front of Afghanistan, an anti-Taliban coalition, have built up stronger resistance against the Taliban in Panjshir, a mountainous area north of Kabul, claimed a spokesperson of the resistance forces.

 “Resistance forces pushed back the Taliban in Panjshir... in battles that began on Sunday night,” said Ali Nazary, head of foreign relations for the resistance force.

“They (Taliban) were trying to attack Panjshir, but they were unable to do that. They faced defeat today and retreated back,” Financial Times quoted Nazary as saying.

Meanwhile, a Taliban spokesman said they will not agree to an extension of the evacuation mission from Afghanistan.

The extension of troop withdrawal would mean “extending occupation” and that is “a red line”, Suhail Shaheen, a member of the Taliban delegation in Doha, the capital of Qatar, told British news channel Sky News on Monday.

The Taliban said it sent hundreds of fighters to the mountainous region of Panjshir, posting videos on social media of its special forces travelling by road to the area.

Ahmad Massoud, the son of a Mujahid who fought the Soviet Union invasion in 1979, and leader of the National Resistance Front of Afghanistan, has called for international support to fight off the Taliban if a peaceful settlement cannot be reached.

The Taliban is working to consolidate control of the country after routing the government of Ashraf Ghani, the former president who has taken refuge in the United Arab Emirates.

US President Joe Biden said on Sunday that the “hard and painful” airlift of Americans and tens of thousands of others from Afghanistan’s capital is accelerating, but he would not rule out extending it beyond the August 31 deadline he set before the Taliban’s swift takeover.

The airport has been the scene of chaos since the Taliban seized the Afghan capital on August 15 as US and international forces try to evacuate citizens and vulnerable Afghans.

A NATO official has said that at least 20 people have died in and around the airport in the past week.

An Afghan security guard has been killed in a firefight between unknown gunmen and Afghan forces at the north gate of Kabul airport, the German military said, as thousands thronged the airport, seeking to flee Taliban rule.

Three more people were injured in the gun battle on Monday morning that has also involved German and United States forces, the German military said on Twitter.

In another development, Iran restarted exports of gasoline and gasoil to Afghanistan a few days ago, after receiving a request from the Taliban, Iran’s Oil, Gas and Petrochemical Products Exporters’ Union says.

“The Taliban sent messages to Iran saying ‘you can continue the exports of petroleum products’,” Hamid Hosseini, union board member and spokesperson in Tehran, told Reuters, adding that some Iranian traders had been cautious due to security concerns.

Iranian exports began a few days ago, after the Taliban cut tariffs on imports of fuel from Iran up to 70 percent, Hosseini added.