Anti-Taliban fighters claim victories as first stirrings of armed resistance emerge

By Ezzatullah Mehrdad, Sudarsan Raghavan
Aug 21, 2021

Local anti-Taliban commanders claimed in interviews they had killed as many as 30 of the group’s fighters and captured 20 in the takeover of the districts in Baghlan province, just over 100 miles north of the capital. Former Afghan service members were joined in the fight, they said, by local civilians. Images shared online showed celebrations as the red, green and black Afghan national flag — rather than the white flag of the Taliban — was raised over government buildings.

“We have ignited something that is historic in Afghanistan,” said Sediqullah Shuja, 28, a former Afghan soldier who took part in Friday’s uprising. “Taliban fighters had armored vehicles, but people threw stones at Taliban fighters and drove them out.”

“As long as we are alive,” he said, “we do not accept the Taliban’s rule.”

Friday’s attack is the latest sign of defiance toward the Taliban, ranging from Afghans refusing to fly the white Taliban flag to women protesting to preserve their rights. Together, they illuminate some of the obstacles the Taliban faces as it seeks to form a government deemed acceptable by a broad spectrum of Afghans and by the international community, especially donors.

But whether Friday’s attack is a sign of an emerging new military front against the Taliban remains to be seen.

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