Taliban rule has been established almost throughout Afghanistan. The Panjshir Gorge (gorge of five lions), a narrow valley surrounded by mountains and small canyons, is an exception. In this strategically important and almost inaccessible mountainous part of the country, columns of government troops and security forces, who did not want to surrender to the Taliban, have retreated. On the day of the fall of Kabul, several helicopters also flew there.
On 20th August, there were reports of an uprising against Taliban in the neighboring region of Baghlan province. As per the reports, the Afghan security forces and local uprising forces liberated the strategic Pul-e-Hesar, Banu, and Andarab districts of Baghlan province from the Taliban. Dozens of Taliban were reportedly killed.
Former Afghan Vice President Amrullah Saleh led the resistance in the valley. He declared himself the interim head of the country and called on the people to confront the Taliban. The movement is said to be supported by the Sandhurst-trained Ahmad Massoud, the son of the legendary military leader and Afghan national hero Ahmad Shah Massoud (the Lion of Panjshir), a significant resistance leader against the Russian forces in Afghanistan. The gathering of the militia has already been announced.
Some names associated with the resistance include General Hasib Panjshiri, General Hamid Saifi, Commander Khalid Amiri, General Haibatullah Alizai, General Sami Sadat, etc. A popular leader, Commander Achakzai, the former police commander of Badghis, was killed fighting the Taliban.
The leaders of the territory free from the presence of the Taliban called on the West to help them with weapons and ammunition. Such a foothold just about 100 km from Kabul could allow the United States to maintain its influence in Afghanistan even after completing the evacuation and the complete withdrawal of troops. But so far, the US and NATO have not responded to this initiative.
Taliban will find it challenging to take the Panjshir Gorge as there are convenient natural conditions for defense. But by itself, the area is small. It is convenient to defend the area, but it will be challenging to develop an offensive from the valley and ensure the supply of the military group and the population located there. The supplies can be sent only by air.
Due to its geographic location, the Panjshir Gorge has been the scene of fierce fighting in every war for Afghanistan. The most accessible routes pass through the mountains: from the center and from the capital to the northern regions and neighboring states. The geographic factor makes the assault on Panjshir an arduous task, especially for the Taliban formations without aircraft, helicopters, and artillery.
But, unlike the confrontation in the late 1990s, the defenders of the Panjshir Gorge this time do not have direct access to the state border and established ties with foreign states. Taliban controls all border crossings and transport arteries leading to the gorge. It has not yet begun hostilities against the enclave but is concentrating its troops near Kabul, from where they can be quickly thrown into the offensive against the rebellious province.