DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — The Taliban and Iran reportedly exchanged gunfire on the Islamic Republic’s border with Afghanistan on Saturday, an advocacy group said, as tensions mount over human rights. water between the two nations.
Iran’s state-run IRNA news agency acknowledged the fighting on the border of Iran’s Sistan-Balochistan province and Afghanistan’s Nimroz province, saying its forces had inflicted “heavy casualties and severe damage”. Taliban forces – perhaps trying not to escalate the confrontation.
Taliban-controlled Afghan media did not acknowledge the fighting.
Advocacy group HalVash, which reports on issues affecting the Baloch people in the predominantly Sunni province of Sistan and Baluchestan, quoted locals describing the fighting as having started on Saturday morning. The group placed the fighting near Kang district in Nimroz, saying some people in the area had fled the violence.
Videos posted online, allegedly from the area, included the crackle of machine gun fire in the distance. HalVash then posted an image of what appeared to be the remains of a mortar shell, saying “heavy guns and mortars are in use”. A later HalVash video claimed to show Iranian forces firing mortars.
The apparent clash comes as Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi earlier this month warned the Taliban not to violate Iran’s water rights on the Helmand River. Raisi’s remarks represented some of the strongest concerns to date about water in Iran.
Drought has been a problem in Iran for about 30 years, but has worsened in the past decade, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. The Iranian Meteorological Organization says around 97% of the country now faces some level of drought.
Earlier on Saturday, Taliban Acting Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi met with an Iranian envoy to Afghanistan to discuss Helmand River water rights, according to tweets from Afghan Foreign Ministry official Zia Ahmad. . IRNA acknowledged the meeting, saying “problems between the two countries will be best resolved through dialogue.”
But tensions have also increased. Another video uploaded in recent days allegedly showed a confrontation with Iranian forces and the Taliban as Iranian construction workers attempted to reinforce the border between the two countries.
In recent days, pro-Taliban accounts online have also shared a video with a song calling on the acting defense minister to stand up to Iran.
Associated Press writers Rahim Faiez in Islamabad and Amir Vahdat in Tehran, Iran, contributed to this report.