Anti-Taliban resistance makes modest gains outside Panjshir

The nascent resistance to the Taliban that has organized in Panjshir province has launched a counteroffensive against the Taliban and has taken control of four districts in two neighboring provinces.

The Panjshir resistance force, which is flying the flag of the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance, took control of Dih Saleh, Andarab, and Puli Hisar districts in eastern Baghlan province, as well as Charikar in Parwan. The resistance is led by former Vice President and National Directorate of Security chief Amrullah Saleh [See FDD’s Long War Journal report, After fall of Kabul, resistance to Taliban emerges in Panjshir].

Anti-Taliban fighters “captured those [four] key districts and are threatening the Taliban’s control of the highway to the north,” a source within the resistance told FDD’s Long War Journal. They also claimed to take “all of Andarab back.”

Within the past month, as the Taliban stormed their way across Afghanistan and ultimately seized Kabul, Andarab became a haven for Afghan security forces troops who did not surrender and capitulate to the Taliban. Andarab has long been a center of anti-Taliban sentiments, so the conquest of the district grants the Panjshir resistance further supporters and resources. Additionally, the capture of Andarab extends the resistance’s reach northward as it hopes to gain a vital lifeline to Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

The resistance is the only direct threat to the Taliban’s attempt to rule all of Afghanistan. The areas controlled by the resistance are now just 60 kilometers north of Kabul. Additionally, there are reports that the resistance inflicted heavy casualties on Taliban fighters in Baghlan.

Videos of the Panjshir resistance flying the Northern Alliance flag have circulated on social media. In Charikar, the capital of Parwan province, resistance forces paraded through the street.

The Taliban, which announced the resurrection of its Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan yesterday, is consolidating its hold of Kabul and the rest of the country. Only Panjshir, and areas in Parwan and Baghlan are out of the Taliban’s grasp. To tackle the Panjshir resistance, the Taliban may have to divert forces from Kabul and areas in the east, where there has been growing unrest in some cities.

While the Panjshir resistance’s odds remain long, if it is able to open a lifeline to neighboring countries and receive international support, it stands a chance to not only divert and disrupt Taliban operations but create a groundswell of interest that could lead to a larger campaign with more sustainable momentum.

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