Afghanistan’s Taliban, which spent 20 years fighting the U.S.-backed government in Kabul as an insurgency, is now battling to defend its increasingly draconian rule from resistance forces bent on reclaiming the country from the Islamic hardliners. This latest phase of conflict, focused in the Panjshir and Andarab valleys north of Kabul, has taken a significant toll already on both sides — and on Afghan civilians.
Earlier this month the National Resistance Forces of Afghanistan (NRF) announced a new military operation against Taliban forces aimed at “liberating” the Panjshir and Andarab valleys.
The NRF is an alliance of anti-Taliban forces made up largely of former members of the country’s military and police, many of them trained by U.S. forces during the two-decade war. Formed after Kabul fell to the Taliban last August, the NRF is led by Ahmad Massoud, son of the iconic 1990s anti-Taliban militia leader Ahmad Shah Massoud.
The elder Massoud was killed by al Qaeda militants in Afghanistan just before the group carried out its September 11, 2001 terror attacks on the U.S.