Iranian Officer Described as 'Key Taliban Arms Facilitator' Captured in Afghanistan
A member of the elite al-Quds force of Iran's Revolutionary Guard has been captured in southern Afghanistan accused of cross-border weapons smuggling, international forces said Friday.
The man, described as a "key Taliban weapons facilitator", was captured Saturday in Zhari district, Kandahar province, southern Afghanistan, a volatile district targeted in recent coalition operations.
He was targeted "for facilitating the movement of weapons between Iran and Kandahar through Nimroz province," a spokesman for the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said.
It is thought he was connected to smuggling small arms between the countries.
"The now-detained man was considered a Kandahar-based weapons facilitator with direct ties to other Taliban leaders in the province," the ISAF spokesman added in a statement.
The news again spotlights the complex relationship between Afghanistan, Iran and the United States, whose troops make up roughly two-thirds of the coalition force which has been fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan for nine years.
British newspaper The Times reported Friday that Iran has released a string of senior Al-Qaeda militants from custody so they can help the network rebuild in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border areas.
The newspaper quoted anonymous Pakistani and Middle Eastern officials accusing Iran of giving covert support to the Islamist militants, often through the Revolutionary Guards.