Allies say Afghan resistance leader Ahmad Massoud has not fled to Turkey
The leader of the anti-Taliban resistance in Afghanistan’s Panjshir Valley, Ahmad Massoud, remains in the country and has not fled to Turkey, London-based Al-Arabiya reported on Sunday.
The National Resistance Front leader did not flee as 70 percent of the province has been captured by the Taliban, it said, citing a a source speaking to Iran’s Fars News Agency.
Last week, the militants shared video that showed their flag being raised over a recently captured building in Panjshir and later proclaimed their victory over the resistance.
Zahir Aghbar, the ousted Afghan government's ambassador to Tajikistan, also claimed that Massoud remains in Afghanistan after being in communication with the resistance leader. Aghbar insisted that he was in regular contact with Massoud as well as former Afghan vice president Amrullah Saleh, who is a staunch opponents of the Taliban and has proclaimed himself the rightful president of the country under the Afghan constitution.
Ahmad Massoud, the son of the legendary mujahideen fighter Ahmad Shah Massoud, rejected the Taliban’s seizure of power in Kabul on August 15. He proclaimed a new resistance against them from Panjshir, where his father’s Northern Alliance mounted an insurgency against Taliban rule and later joined forces with the United States after the September 11, 2001 attacks on New York and Washington D.C.
Massoud’s father was assassinated on September 9, 2001 by Al-Qaeda operatives posing as a news crew.
On September 6, Massoud shared an audio message to his followers, imploring them and all Afghans opposed to the Taliban to begin a “national uprising”. For the last week, protests have taken place across Afghanistan as women and other concerned groups took to the streets to voice their discontent. The Taliban has responded by detaining protesters and dispersing crowds with force.
Turkey has remained engaged in Afghanistan after the United States completed its withdrawal on August 31. Together with Qatar, it has sought to carve out a role in supporting the operation of Kabul’s international airport, but has held off on recognizing the Taliban-led interim government.
Several Afghan leaders have maintained some level of connection with Turkey over the years, including Uzbek warlord Abdul Rashid Dostum who fought against the Taliban. In the past, Turkey has provided limited training to the Northern Alliance after 9/11 and later maintained a non-combat role in Afghanistan as part of the wider NATO mission.