Afghan resistance movement and anti-Taliban uprising forces personnel stand guard at an outpost in Kotal-e Anjuman of Paryan district in Panjshir province on August 23, 2021, as the Taliban said their fighters had surrounded resistance forces holed up in the valley, but were looking to negotiate rather than take the fight to them. (Photo by Ahmad SAHEL ARMAN / AFP)

Anti-Taliban forces fire a mounted heavy machine gun into a deep valley from the top of a rocky mountain that has defied foreign invaders for decades.

They are members of the National Resistance Front (NRF), which has emerged as the most visible Afghan opposition organization since the Taliban took control of Kabul ten days ago.

They are called the National Resistance Front (NFR). The NRF has put up machine gun nests, mortars, and monitoring stations protected with sandbags in anticipation of a Taliban attack on their bastion, the Panjshir Valley, with militia fighters and former government soldiers among its ranks.

Its fighters patrol the region in US-made Humvees and technicals — pickup trucks with machine weapons mounted on the back – many of them are dressed in military fatigues.

Assault rifles, rocket-propelled grenades, and walkie-talkies are among the weapons carried by many. Some people in the valley, which begins approximately an hour north of Kabul, pose atop their vehicles against a stunning backdrop of snow-covered peaks.

“We are going to rub their faces in the ground,” one fighter declared from a vantage point on the Panjshir heights, citing previous triumphs over the Taliban.

His other soldiers then raised their hands and chanted, “Allah O Akbar.”

“If Taliban warlords launch an assault, they will, of course, face staunch resistance from us,” Ahmad Massoud, one of the NRF leaders, said in a Washington Post op-ed last week.

He is the son of Tajik leader Ahmad Shah Massoud, who is credited with transforming the Panjshir Valley into an anti-Soviet and anti-Taliban stronghold.

Panjshir Province is in control of NRF. At least two former government members are there, including the defense minister and the first vice president.

This happens at a time when there are reports on the ongoing negotiations. Although the Taliban have said that they wish to resolve the problem amicably, media reports on Tuesday claimed that the Taliban had sent hundreds of militants to the Panjshir Valley.

Panjshir has been surrounded by three sides, according to the Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid. Amrullah Saleh, the first vice president, tweeted that “Talibs aren’t allowing food & fuel to get into Andarab valley.”, resulting in thousands of women and children fleeing to the mountains.

Ahmad Massoud said that they have arms and ammunition but he added that without help from the outside world, his fighters would not be able to withstand the Taliban’s siege for long.

“We know that our military forces and logistics will not be sufficient,” he wrote.

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