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Iran arms Afghan insurgents, NATO says

Last Updated: Tuesday, March 1, 2011 - 10:52

Kabul: The NATO force in Afghanistan
on Tuesday spelled out the support it believes Iran is providing to
insurgents in the violence-wracked country, warning it was
keeping a wary eye out.

Tehran opposes the presence of thousands of US troops
in the region, with American soldiers stationed in Iraq and
Afghanistan, both of which border Iran, an Islamic republic.
"They (Iran) are giving them a limited amount of
bullets, technical pieces of IEDs, rockets, RPGs
(rocket-propelled grenades), through networks well established
through the border," said US Rear Admiral Gregory Smith.

IEDs are home-made bombs -- the weapon of choice for
increasingly emboldened militants in Afghanistan.

Smith, deputy chief of staff of ISAF, the
International Security Assistance Force, added of Iran: "They
want to be in the game."

There are 140,000 foreign troops, most of them
American, deployed in Afghanistan to help defeat the Taliban,
who have waged an increasingly bloody insurgency since they
were ousted from power in a US-led invasion in 2001.

"They are building networks," Smith said of Iran.

That comes despite the age-old rivalry between Shia
Muslims, who make up the vast majority of the Iranian
population, and Sunnis, the denomination of almost all the
Afghan Taliban.
Tehran gives Afghan insurgents "some support in
training, financial support, and equipment, mostly
ammunition", Smith said, but less than they provide to Shia
groups in Iraq.

"Today it`s not a major concern for the coalition," he
said, but added that Iran could increase its support
"overnight" should it choose to do so.


First Published: Tuesday, March 1, 2011 - 10:52

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