The leader of a group in Afghanistan resisting Taliban control in the northeastern Panjshir valley expressed willingness on Sunday to suspend the fighting and resolve the conflict through dialogue.
The offer came from Ahmad Massoud, the leader of the resistance group in Panjshir, where the Taliban launched an offensive shortly after US forces left Afghanistan after 20 years on Aug. 31.
On social media, Massoud offered to end the clashes and engage in negotiation in return for the Taliban also halting operations in Panjshir and the neighboring district of Andarab.
The Taliban have yet to respond to the message sent out earlier in the evening.
The two groups have undertaken multiple rounds of negotiations but were unable to reach an agreement.
In an audio message released to the media on the first day of the Taliban offensive on Panjshir, Taliban commander Amir Khan Muttaqi said several rounds of talks had been held but that they had received no positive response from the Panjshir resistance group.
The resistance group is backed by Amrullah Saleh, the first vice president of the government of former President Ashraf Ghani, and Bismillah Mohammadi, its defense minister.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid recently said on Twitter that the Panjshir group attacked Taliban fighters, prompting them to counterattack.
The Taliban have taken Paryan district, which is close to Bazarak, the seat of Panjshir province, according to Fahim Fetrat, a journalist in the region.
Local media have reported that the Taliban have also taken control of Panjshir’s Rukha district.
Panjshir resistance group’s spokesman reportedly killed by Taliban
Fahim Dashti, the spokesman for the Panjshir resistance group, was killed on Sunday in the fighting with the Taliban, according to Noor Rahman Akhlaqi, a member of Jamiat-e-Islami party of Afghanistan and a close friend of Dashti.
Akhlaqi corroborated Dashti’s death in a Facebook post.
Local media outlet Tolo News also quoted a Taliban source claiming that their fighters had entered Bazarak and killed Dashti, though this could not be corroborated independently as communications remain suspended in the valley, 50 kilometers (30 miles) north of the capital Kabul.
* Bilal Guler contributed to this story from Kabul.
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