Iran and Taliban forces clash in border area

Iranian media say Taliban forces opened fire on Iranian farmers thinking they violated the border, leading Iranian soldiers to intervene.

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Tehran, Iran – Clashes erupted between Iranian soldiers and Taliban forces near the Afghanistan-Iran border, but appear to have led to no casualties and was later described as a “misunderstanding”.

Multiple videos on Wednesday showed Taliban troops mobilising. Gunfire can be heard while one shows Iranian forces firing artillery shells in response to Taliban fire.

The semi-official Iranian news agency Tasnim confirmed the battle in the village of Shaghalak in Hirmand county.

Tasnim, which has links with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), said there are walled areas on Iranian soil near the border with Afghanistan in order to combat smuggling.

Some Iranian farmers passed the walls but were still inside Iran’s border when Taliban forces opened fire, thinking its side had been violated, the report said.

The fighting was over and Iranian authorities were discussing the situation with the Taliban, it added.

Later on Wednesday, Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said in a statement a “misunderstanding between border residents” had caused the fighting, without naming the Taliban.

‘Complete control’

A video purportedly showed Taliban forces inside an Iranian garrison, with reports claiming several outposts were seized.

Tasnim denied the seizure of any facilities, but said “some of the published footage was for the early moments of fighting, and border forces now have complete control over the country’s borders”.

But a report by the semi-official Fars news website, which also has ties with the IRGC, made no mention of the Taliban, saying smugglers may be at fault. It said there were no casualties and the area is now calm.

Mohammad Marashi, security deputy for Sistan and Baluchestan’s governor, told Iranian state television the clashes were not serious, incurred no harm on personnel or property, and had ended. He named Taliban forces as the instigators.

Iran has not officially recognised the Taliban since the group quickly took control of neighbouring Afghanistan following the withdrawal of United States forces in August.

Iranian officials have repeatedly said the recognition would hinge on the formation of an “inclusive” government in Afghanistan, but have called on the US to lift its sanctions on the Taliban to quell humanitarian concerns.

In mid-November, Hassan Kazemi-Qomi, Iran’s special representative on Afghanistan, led an Iranian delegation for an official visit to the country to hold talks. He met several Taliban officials to discuss the country’s economy, geopolitics of the region, and security concerns.

In late October, Iran hosted a meeting of neighbours plus Russia in Tehran, however, Taliban officials were not invited.

Source: Al Jazeera