An anti-Taliban resistance group in Afghanistan, the National Resistance Front of Afghanistan (NRF), says it has thousands of people ready to fight.
The Panjshir region – in particular the Panjshir Valley is still under the control of the NRF, which was founded by Ahmad Massoud (pictured below) – the son of Afghan resistance hero, Ahmad Shah Massoud.
The region is famous for having successfully fought off invasions, including from Soviet forces during the Soviet-Afghan war from 1979 to 1989, and the Taliban in the 1990s.
Now the NRF say they are ready to defend and fight the Taliban if attacked, but will first of all seek negotiations with the group. If negotiations fail they will fight off the Taliban as history has always been on their side.
Ali Nazary, head of foreign relations for the National Resistance Front of Afghanistan, told the BBC they want to pursue peaceful negotiations.
But, he added, “if this fails… then we’re not going to accept any sort of aggression”.
Nazary told BBC Radio 4’s programme on Monday, August 23 that Panjshir had had a recent influx of local resistance forces from across the country, who have joined fighters they had already trained locally.
He said the group had “thousands of forces ready for the resistance”
“However, we prefer to pursue peace and negotiations before any sort of war and conflict,” the spokesman added.
“The NRF believes that for lasting peace we have to address the underlying problems in Afghanistan,” he continued. “Afghanistan is a country made up of ethnic minorities, no one is a majority. It’s a multicultural state, so it needs power sharing – a power-sharing deal where everyone sees themselves in power.”
Having one group dominating politics will lead to “internal warfare and the continuation of the current conflict,” he said.
“We prefer peace, we prioritise peace and negotiations,” Mr Nazary added. “If this fails – if we see that the other side is not sincere, if we see that the other side is trying to force itself on the rest of the country – then we’re not going to accept any sort of aggression.
“And we’ve proven ourselves, our track record in the past [40 years] has shown that no-one is able to conquer our region, especially the Panjshir Valley.
“The Red Army, with its might, was unable to defeat us… I don’t think any force right now in Afghanistan has the might of the Red Army. And the Taliban also 25 years ago… they tried to take over the valley and they failed, they faced a crushing defeat.”
Amrullah Saleh, who was vice-president in the government recently ousted by the Taliban is now based in Panjshir, and has joined the forces ready to defend the district.
Meanwhile, the Taliban say they have surrounded the group’s Panjshir valley stronghold and put them under siege.
Resistance figures have also said the Taliban are now advancing in the region, northeast of the capital Kabul.