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Afghan officials accuse Iran of supplying Taliban with rockets

Image of Iranian air missiles [file photo]
Image of Iranian air missiles [file photo]

The Governor of Helmand province, Hayatullah Hayat, told Radio Free Afghanistan on Sunday that “Iranian interference [in Afghan affairs] has increased”. Hayat cited intelligence reports regarding a meeting between Iranians officials and Taliban representatives in the Garamser district.

Hayat said several Iranian rockets were found after the Taliban used them to attack the provincial government compound.  He added that ten rockets were fired by the Taliban at government headquarters in Helmand province, which borders Pakistan, and that the inscription on the missiles showed that they were made in Iran. He revealed that Iranian-made missiles launched by the Taliban were also found after armed clashes in the cities of Krmesar and Sunken.

Iran has long been suspected of backing the Taliban’s with cash and arms. The reason, according to one western diplomat cited by the Wall Street Journal is because “Iran is betting on the re-emergence of the Taliban; …they are uncertain about where Afghanistan is heading right now, so they are hedging their bets.”

Analysts also say that Iran’s strategy in backing the Taliban is twofold: Countering US influence in the region and providing a counterweight to Islamic State’s move into the Taliban’s territory in Afghanistan.

In February 2016, the Afghan authorities found Iranian-made mines and a large stockpile of arms and ammunition in a warehouse in one of the headquarters of the Taliban that security forces raided in the Bamyan province.

Hayat believes the reason behind Tehran’s support of the Taliban in his region is due to the dispute between Iran and Afghanistan over the Helmand River, which flows into Lake Hamon in Baluchestan province in eastern Iran. Tehran believes Afghanistan changed the path of the river causing the lake to dry out.

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