Commander Massoud’s son says he will not abdicate to the Taliban

Ahmad Massoud, son of Commander Ahmad Shah Massoud, a murdered hero of the resistance against Soviet occupation in Afghanistan in the 1980s, said on Sunday (August 22) that he hoped a dialogue could begin with the Taliban. While adding that the forces he leads were ready to fight.

“We want to make the Taliban understand that the only way forward is negotiation”, he said from his stronghold in the Panchir Valley, northwest of the capital Kabul, where he leads a resistance movement made up of former members of the Afghan security forces and militiamen. He called for the formation of a government in which all the different ethnic groups in the country would be represented, stressing that a ” Totalitarian regime “ should not be recognized by the international community.

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Fear of new clashes

“We don’t want a war to break out”, he added in a telephone interview with Reuters, specifying, however, that his fighters were willing to fight if the Taliban, who had so far kept away from the Panchir, tried to invade the area.

Which could happen soon. Via one of their Twitter accounts, the Taliban said hundreds of fighters were on their way to the Panchir “After local representatives refused to return (the region) peacefully”. A relative of Ahmad Massoud said for his part that no sign indicated that vehicles of the Islamist movement had entered the valley and that no fighting had been reported. Photos taken by Agence France Presse show armored vehicles driving through the valley.

In 1997 Ahmad Massoud’s father, Commander Massoud, legendary warlord nicknamed “The lion of Panchir”, had blown up the Salang tunnel, built during the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan (1979-1989), thus closing the gateway to the valley from the south. Despite many attempts, the Taliban never succeeded in seizing the Panchir.

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Le Monde with AFP and Reuters