TEHRAN (Iran News) – The Iranian Foreign Ministry said on Monday that the blockade of the Panjshir Valley in north of Kabul by the Taliban contravenes international law and humanitarian law.
The ministry reiterated Tehran’s position that there is only a political solution to the issues surrounding the Panjshir Valley.
“There is only political solution to Panjshir and the siege of Panjshir is by no means acceptable in terms of international law and humanitarian law,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh told a regular news briefing.
The Taliban said on Monday they have taken control of Panjshir province, AP reported.
Panjshir was the last holdout of anti-Taliban forces in the country and the only province the Taliban had not seized during their blitz across Afghanistan last month.
Thousands of Taliban fighters overran eight districts of Panjshir overnight, according to witnesses from the area who spoke on condition of anonymity, fearing for their safety. Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid issued a statement saying Panjshir was now under the control of Taliban fighters. But the National Resistance Force (NRF) has strongly denied the claims.
“Taliban’s claim of occupying Panjshir is false. The NRF forces are present in all strategic positions across the valley to continue the fight. We assure the ppl of Afghanistan that the struggle against the Taliban & their partners will continue until justice & freedom prevails,” the NRF tweeted.
Khatibzadeh said reports from Panjshir are “worrying”. He added the attack on the province is strongly condemned.
Fahim Dashti, the spokesman for the anti-Taliban group, was killed in a battle on Sunday, according to the group’s Twitter account. Dashti was the voice of the group and a prominent media personality during previous governments.
He was also the nephew of Abdullah Abdullah, a senior official of the former government who is involved in negotiations with the Taliban on the future of Afghanistan.
Khatibzadeh said the “martyrdom” of Afghan leaders is a “source of regret”.
“No side must allow that this course lead to fratricide,” he said, adding that the Taliban should abide by international law.
He went on to say that “starving” the people of Panjshir and “cutting their water and electricity is a cause of concern and regret.”
In his statement, Mujahid sought to assure residents of Panjshir that they would be safe — even as scores of families reportedly fled into the mountains ahead of the Taliban’s arrival.
“We give full confidence to the honorable people of Panjshir that they will not be subjected to any discrimination, that all are our brothers, and that we will serve a country and a common goal,” Mujahid said in his statement.
The Taliban stepped-up assault on Panjshir on Sunday, tweeting that their forces had overrun Rokha district, one of the largest of eight districts in the province. Several Taliban delegations have attempted negotiations with the holdouts there, but talks have failed to gain traction.
Afghanistan’s new rulers have pledged to be more “inclusive” than during their first stint in power, which also came after years of conflict — first the Soviet invasion of 1979, and then a bloody civil war.
They have promised a government that represents Afghanistan’s complex ethnic makeup.