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Afghanistan's then-Vice President Amrullah Saleh at a function at the presidential palace in Kabul on Aug. 4. Photo: Sajjad Hussain/AFP via Getty Images

Opposition leaders who've fled to Afghanistan's last holdout against the Taliban are looking to launch an "armed resistance under the banner of the Northern Alliance," which helped the U.S. oust the Taliban in 2001, per AP.

Why it matters: The Taliban has a strong grip on the country, shooting at protesters in three cities this week who tried to raise the Afghan national flag. It confirmed on Thursday that it would not govern as a democracy.

  • Social media posts in the Panjshir Valley, north of Kabul in the Hindu Kush, by regional leader Ahmad Massoud and others show this region has not fallen to the Taliban.
  • Ousted Vice President Amrullah Saleh declared from the Panjshir Valley on Tuesday that he was the "legitimate caretaker president" of Afghanistan due to Afghan President Ashraf Ghani's fleeing to the United Arab Emirates.

The big picture: This opposition group is backed by "a corps of loyal fighters" that is resisting the Taliban, the New York Times notes.

  • People in the region resisted Russian fighters in the 1980s and also the Taliban in the 1990s.
  • Massoud is the son of Northern Alliance commander Ahmad Shah Massoud, who was killed in 2001.

Of note: Saleh wrote a Washington Post op-ed on Wednesday calling for aid including weapons to help the group in its battle against the Taliban.

  • Saleh also in a tweet expressed "support and appreciation for the courageous and patriotic movement of the honorable" protesters who raised the national flag in defiance of the new government in three Afghan cities on Wednesday — which saw the Taliban respond with gunfire, killing at least two people in Jalalabad.

Go deeper

Oct 19, 2021 - World

WHO, UNICEF to launch polio vaccine drive in Afghanistan

Afghan boys return to their homes after attending school in Chashma Dozak area of Badghis province on Oct. 16. Photo: Hoshang Hashimi/AFP via Getty Images

The World Health Organization and United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) will launch a house-to-house vaccination campaign to inoculate children in Afghanistan against polio, the UN announced Monday.

Why it matters: The campaign, which begins Nov. 8 with the Taliban's backing, is the first such vaccine drive in over three years to reach all Afghan children, the press release noted.

Updated 6 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Health: Omicron fuels the case for COVID boosters — Omicron variant lifts Moderna's stock price — CDC strengthens COVID booster recommendation.
  2. Politics: Biden says fight against Omicron won't include "shutdowns or lockdowns."
  3. States: Federal court blocks Biden's vaccine mandate for health workers in 10 states — NYC urges masks indoors "at all times" regardless of vaccination status — New York declares state of emergency amid concerns over Omicron.
  4. World: Omicron adds urgency to vaccinating worldWHO warns against travel bans on southern African countries — First North American Omicron cases identified in Canada.
  5. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.
Kendall Baker, author of Sports
Updated 15 mins ago - Sports

College football gone mad

Former Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly walks in front of his players. Photo: David Madison/Getty Images

In the span of two days, the head coaches of two of the biggest college football programs in America have jumped ship, wooed by even greater challenges — and the almighty dollar.

Driving the news: Lincoln Riley is ditching Oklahoma for USC in a deal reportedly worth $110 million. LSU poached Brian Kelly from Notre Dame with a reported 10-year, $100 million contract.