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Iran Accused of Helping Taliban Capture A District In Afghanistan

Protest of war refugees from Ghor who have fled to Herat, 26 July 2017

Iran has been involved in the war in the Afghan province of Ghor and the fall of Taywara district, an Afghan official said on July 25.

Taywara fell to the Taliban on July 23.

The head of the provincial council of Ghor, Fazlul Haq Ihsan, also maintained that Iran has provided the Taliban with backup and facilities.

“The Taliban have received military assistance from Tehran, and their [recent] operations were backed by Iran,” he told RFE/RL’s Afghan Service, Radio Azadi.

Ghor is one of Afghanistan 34 provinces and is located in central Afghanistan, toward the northwest.

“Financially and logistically, Iran has supported the Taliban’s war against Afghan armed forces in Ghor to destroy Salma Dam in the neighboring province of Herat, as well as demolishing the Poze Lich Hydropower plant that is currently under construction in Ghor,” Ihsan said.

Iran has been complaining that the construction of dams in Afghanistan reduces the flow of water across the border into Iran and contributes to water scarcity.

Moreover, Ihsan argued, “since the Islamic State [IS] has a small unit in Morghab” and “Iran is scared of IS, Tehran has helped Taliban to destabilize Ghor and meanwhile annihilate the IS unit.”

He did say, however, that he would not “dismiss the possibility” that Iranian forces have a “physical presence” in Ghor’s war, but “most of the operations supporting the Taliban take place during the dark hours of the night.”

Tehran denies the allegations.

Citing reports received from Taywara district, Ihsan said, “After the fall of the district, the Taliban have massacred many people and torched several public buildings.”

It is not possible to verify the prevailing conditions in the war torn districts.

Ghor residents who have fled to Herat protest against lack of security and Iran's suspected assiatance to the Taliban, July 26, 2017
Ghor residents who have fled to Herat protest against lack of security and Iran's suspected assiatance to the Taliban, July 26, 2017

Afghan officials usually accuse Pakistani military intelligence of assisting and guiding the Taliban in their military operations. An official from Ghor’s governor’s office told Radio Azadi that Pakistan might also be behind Taliban offensive in the province.

Radio Azadi tried to reach the Iranian and Pakistani embassies in Kabul for comment. “While connecting to Islamabad’s embassy was unsuccessful, Tehran’s Embassy refused to talk about the case,” Radio Azadi reported.

Refugees who fled the Taliban onslaught in Ghor held protests in Herat on Wednesday. In a video report sent by Radio Azadi’s correspondent, the refugees speak about Iran supplying weapons to the Taliban. They also condemn the Afghan government for its inability to defend the population.

Iran has been accused of helping the Taliban at a time when President Hassan Rouhani has labeled the construction of dams in Afghanistan as “problematic for Iran” and warned that Tehran “is not going to stand idly by” against it.

Afghan forces have not yet been successful in taking back Taywara, although Kabul has declared that reinforcement forces have been deployed to reclaim the district.

Ghor provincial council officials have cautioned that Ghor faces a security problem that needs to be urgently addressed lest it spread to the capital of the province.