Resistance leaders Massoud, Saleh still in Afghanistan, diplomat says

Afghan ambassador to Tajikistan Mohammad Zahir Aghbar attends a news conference at the embassy in Dushanbe, Tajikistan September 8, 2021. The portraits show former Mujahideen leader Ahmad Shah Massoud, Vice President Amrullah Saleh and King Amanullah Khan. REUTERS/Didor Sadulloev

Panjshiri leader Ahmad Shah Massoud and former Afghan Vice President Amrullah Saleh have not fled Afghanistan and their resistance forces are still fighting the Taliban, the ousted Afghan government's ambassador to Tajikistan said on Wednesday.

Zahir Aghbar, envoy to Dushanbe under the government of ousted Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, told a news conference in Tajikistan's capital that he was in regular contact with Saleh and that the resistance leaders were out of general communication for security reasons.

"Ahmad Massoud and Amrullah Saleh have not fled to Tajikistan. The news that Ahmad Massoud has left Panjshir is not true; he is inside Afghanistan," Aghbar said.

"I am in constant contact with Amrullah Saleh, who is currently in Panjshir and running the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan's government," he said.

The Taliban swept to power last month and the militant group has said they have captured the Panjshir valley, a last holdout province, though the resistance has not conceded defeat.

(Reporting by Nazarali Pirnazarov; writing by Tom Balmforth; editing by Cynthia Osterman)

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