Taliban and Afghan rebels claim heavy casualties in fighting over valley

The Taliban has surrounded the only remaining province resisting its rule, a senior leader said on September 1, calling on rebels to negotiate a settlement with the group. Since the fall of Kabul on Aug. 15, mountainous Panjshir has been the only province to hold out against the Islamist group, although there has also been fighting in neighbouring Baghlan province between Taliban and local militia forces. Under the leadership of Ahmad Massoud, son of a former Mujahideen commander, several thousand members of local militias and remnants of army and special forces units have been holding out against the Taliban.