US Commanders worried over increased Iranian threat in Afghanistan
KABUL - US Commanders worried over increased Iranian threat in Afghanistan.
There has been an increase in Iranian activity in Afghanistan that poses a risk to American and coalition troops there, a senior US commander said, as the threat from Tehran continues to churn across the Middle East.
Marine Gen. Frank McKenzie, the top US commander for the Middle East made an unannounced visit to Afghanistan this week. He told reporters traveling with him that he is seeing a “worrisome trend,” of Iranian malign interference, TOLO News has reported.
“Iran has always sort of dabbled a little bit in Afghanistan, but they see perhaps an opportunity to get after us and the coalition here through their proxies,” McKenzie said. “So, we are very concerned about that here as we go forward.”
McKenzie’s warnings come just weeks after Iran launched as many as two dozen ballistic missiles at two bases in Iraq where American forces are stationed. No one was killed, but several dozen US troops received traumatic brain injuries. The attack was in retribution for a US drone strike in Iraq that killed Qassem Soleimani, a top Iranian Quds Force general.
Iran has long provided money, support and weapons to Shiite militias in Afghanistan. As the war in Syria heated up in recent years, Iran ran an extensive drive to bring in Shiites from Afghanistan and other parts of the region to help support President Bashar Assad.
And as that war has wound down, thousands have returned home. Afghan officials have expressed concerns that Iran is still backing and organizing the militia members and that they could pose a threat to troops, residents and the government.
McKenzie, who left Afghanistan Friday after a three-day visit, said the coalition is working with the Afghan government to monitor the situation and prevent any problems.