Iran Ramps Up Support to Taliban in Western Afghanistan

Reports on current military activity
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DWS Staff
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Wed Aug 01, 2018 6:09 am

During an official visit to Iran in May, Tariq Shah Bahrami, Afghanistan’s defense minister, received assurances that Tehran was fully committed to helping Kabul fight terrorism. It was a welcome guarantee, coming as Afghan forces faced a fresh onslaught from the Taliban, which typically mounts an annual offensive in April. Within months, however, the promise appeared to ring hollow as Afghan officials increasingly blamed Iran for the fighting in Afghanistan’s western Farah province.

Speaking after his meeting with Bahrami on May 13, Iranian Army Chief of Staff Mohammad Hossein Baqeri declared that Tehran and Kabul shared a common purpose.

“The shared backgrounds between the two countries of Iran and Afghanistan, including religion and language, have brought them together in such a way that no obstacle can undermine their close relations, especially in combatting the terrorist groups,” he said (Khaama Press, May 13).

However, as Bahrami gathered assurances and pledges of support from the clerical regime’s senior officials in Tehran, a battle was brewing along the nearly 1,000 kilometer-long border between the countries. Hundreds, perhaps thousands of Taliban fighters descended on the western city of Farah, which serves as the capital of the rural Farah province.

Heavily armed Taliban fighters breached Farah’s defenses in the early hours of May 15. By mid-day, they had overrun large swathes of the town, torched several government building and killed and captured government soldiers, policemen and pro-government militia members.

“The incompetent defense minister, the head of the Directorate of National Security [the Afghan secret service] and Mr. President, the residents of Farah are utterly disappointed with you because we were nearly overrun by Iranian and Pakistani spies,” said Humayon Shahzada, a militia member who fought in the battle.

In Kabul, Afghan interior ministry spokesman Najib Danish was more diplomatic. “What happened today has foreign links but it’s still not clear which country is involved,” he said.

The clashes continued well into the following day, even after Afghan officials claimed to have repulsed the Taliban attack by sending in special forces troops and calling on NATO airpower.

Read more here: ... ghanistan/
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