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The Taliban has taken complete control of Panjshir province, the last area in Afghanistan held by resistance forces, the group’s spokesman said on Monday, as it cemented its control of the country three weeks after taking over Kabul.

“With this victory, our country is completely taken out of the quagmire of war,” chief spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said.

Pictures on social media on Monday showed Taliban members standing in front of the gate of the Panjshir provincial governor’s compound.

Meanwhile, the National Resistance Front (NRF) spokesman said the Taliban’s claim of victory was false and opposition forces continued to fight, adding that its forces were present in “strategic positions” across the Panjshir valley.

The whereabouts of resistance leader Ahmed Massoud and Amrullah Saleh, the former vice president who had joined resistance forces after the fall of Kabul, were not immediately known.

Saleh had declared himself the acting president after President Ashraf Ghani fled the country after the Taliban takeover on August 15.

Earlier on Monday, the NRF acknowledged suffering considerable battlefield losses and called for a ceasefire, as US Secretary of State Antony Blinken flew to Qatar to try and handle the chaotic aftermath of the US withdrawal from Afghanistan.

The NRF includes local fighters loyal to Massoud, the son of the famous anti-Soviet and anti-Taliban commander Ahmad Shah Massoud, as well as remnants of the Afghan military that retreated to the Panjshir Valley, about 125km (78 miles) north of the capital Kabul.

The group said separately in a tweet on Sunday that spokesman Fahim Dashty, a well-known Afghan journalist, and General Abdul Wudod Zara had been killed in the latest fighting.

Mujahid, the Taliban spokesman, in a press conference on Monday said that resistance forces gave ‘negative answers’ when Taliban tried to negotiate, adding that no civilian casualties were reported in the takeover of Panjshir.

The Panjshir Valley is famed for being the site of resistance to Soviet forces in the 1980s and the Taliban in the late 90s.