Afghan Resistance, in Startling Report, Says It Liberated Districts in North Panjshir Region

If true, the report would mark an important moment at the start of what is called the fighting season in Afghanistan and suggest that a startling and more spirited fight than previously reported is under way in the country.

AP/Jalaluddin Sekandar
Militiamen in northeastern Afghanistan in 2021. They were loyal to Ahmad Massoud, son of the late Ahmad Shah Massoud. AP/Jalaluddin Sekandar

Updated at 11:12 P.M.

Afghanistan’s National Resistance Front, an opposition group, is claiming this evening to be on the verge of victories over the Taliban in several districts in the country’s Northeastern provinces.

The NRF, which describes itself as “the last force fighting for the restoration of democracy in Afghanistan,” expressed hopes that these victories were the first steps in an effort to liberate the country from Taliban rule.

It noted, though, that it was working without foreign aid that could bolster its efforts. Security analysts, meanwhile, expressed skepticism over whether the NRF could topple the new regime in Kabul, though noting the Taliban did see the group as a threat.

“There is intense fighting right now throughout Panjshir,” the NRF’s head of foreign relations, Ali Nazary, told The New York Sun in a telephone interview Friday evening. 

Mr. Nazary said the group had “liberated three districts,” including Hisa Awal, Abshar, and Abdullah Khel, all of which are located in Panjshir province in Northeastern Afghanistan.

Mr. Nazary’s reports could not be confirmed by the Sun. A Taliban official, writing on Twitter, denied the claim. If true the NRF report would mark an important moment at the start of what is called the fighting season in Afghanistan and suggest that a startling and more spirited fight than previously reported is under way in the country.

Mr. Nazary reported that the only remaining Taliban forces left in these “liberated” territories were in the “district centers,” which consist of “a few buildings” that are besieged by NRF forces and “asking for time to surrender,” Mr. Nazary said. 

This was new terrain for the NRF, Mr. Nazary said, and a sign of the group’s expanded reach. “These are districts we didn’t control before today,” he said. Fighting was also underway in three other Northeastern provinces, Mr. Nazary said.

In Baghlan province, the NRF launched attacks in the Tala, Andarab, and Barfak districts. Mr. Nazary told the Sun the “Taliban lost a commander,” in the fighting in Baghlan. The NRF was also fighting in the Worsaj district in Takhar province, he said.

“More events are on the way,” Mr. Nazary said, describing the successful attacks as “a sign that the Taliban are weakened and losing control.” 

Referring to the Taliban takeover of Kabul on August 15, 2021, Mr. Nazary said the NRF is now “showing that even eight months later, we can still resist. We are taking back our country.”

He also emphasized that the NRF was “fighting with what we have, and if the international community was with us as they were before August 15, we could do much more.”

Asked if the NRF had requested any assistance from America, Mr. Nazary explained “we haven’t formally asked for material support,” because “we don’t see much interest” on the American side in aiding their efforts.

Mr. Nazary said the Afghans were used to fighting without substantial foreign assistance. “We did this before in the 1980s,” he explained, referring to the guerilla warfare tactics that held the Soviet Union at bay after it invaded the country called “the graveyard of empires.”

“We used this strategy against the Soviets,” Mr. Nazary said. “Even back then we were not receiving much aid.” He noted that most of the foreign assistance that flowed into Afghanistan at that time “went to radicals, not to the moderates.” 

That experience four decades ago, Mr. Nazary said, informs the current opposition to the Taliban, whom he describes as “terrorists.”

With the onset of Afghanistan’s so-called “fighting season,” which runs from April to October, other resistance groups are reportedly seeking to join with the NRF to fight the Taliban.

Voice of America reports these “new groups have names such as the Afghanistan Freedom Front and the Afghanistan Islamic National & Liberation Movement.”

Mr. Nazary noted the NRF was the “only group actually fighting in Afghanistan,” and “we haven’t seen much action” from the new groups. He wondered whether “they have the will to resist in the future.”

The NRF was also planning to launch a nationwide consultative body, called the Supreme Council of the National Resistance Front, envisioned to aid Afghanistan in a hoped-for transition away from Taliban rule.

The NRF’s ambitions are also reflected in a twitter message Mr. Nazary wrote earlier Friday.

“Tonight,” Mr. Nazary wrote, “the lions of the Hindu Kush under the command of Khalid Amiry have launched an all out offensive in Panjshir.” He added that “the dawn of freedom is near.”

A recent report from Chris Massaro at Fox News observes that the NRF faces steep hurdles in its effort. The group “has lacked sufficient political and material support from an external power,” Mr. Massaro writes, “which is an integral component of sustaining a successful insurgent campaign.”

An analyst at the New Lines institute, Caroline Rose, notes that although the NRF might prove “a security threat to the Taliban,” in her view “its threat to Taliban governance is not as serious.”

A researcher at the Institute for the Study of War, Peter Mills, wrote in a March report that the NRF is among several “opposition groups” in Afghanistan whose “fighting capabilities remain uncertain.” Yet Mr. Mills observed “the Taliban central leadership is concerned about NRF attacks in the Panjshir Valley.”

The New York Sun

© 2024 The New York Sun Company, LLC. All rights reserved.

Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. The material on this site is protected by copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, cached or otherwise used.

The New York Sun

Sign in or  create a free account

By continuing you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use