Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Wire: US Strike Kills Militant in Afghanistan Said Linked to Iran's Quds Force

Off the Wire

Off the Wire:

WASHINGTON, June 10, 2009 -- Newswire services reported this morning that the U.S. military on Wednesday said an airstrike in western Afghanistan killed a militant commander with reported links to Iran's elite military Quds Force. An Afghan official said fighting elsewhere killed 30 Taliban.

The airstrike Tuesday in the western province of Ghor targeted a warlord named Mullah Mustafa, whom the U.S. military said was responsible for attacks on a nearby highway. The military said 16 of Mustafa's men were also killed, the Associated Press said.

The U.S. said Mustafa commanded about 100 fighters and "reportedly had connections to" the Iranian Revolutionary Guard's elite Quds Force, which is known to train Shiite militants from Middle Eastern countries.

AP noted the following details:
A U.S. military spokeswoman, Lt. Cmdr. Christine Sidenstricker, said that the military was not implying that Mustafa had links with Iran's government, but that individual militants in Afghanistan may have links with individual militants in Iran.

"We're not implying with this release that Iran the state is supporting the Taliban," Sidenstricker said. "Our intelligence suggests that Mustafa has relations with the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Quds Force."

Sidenstricker said she could not provide any more details for security reasons, including whether Mustafa had gotten weapons, training or fighters from the Quds Force.

The strike was likely carried out by an American Special Operations Forces team, although Sidenstricker said she didn't know what force carried out the strike and could not say.

An official in Ghor, deputy Gov. Karimuddin Rezazada, said Mustafa had links with the Taliban and was behind a string of attacks on the highway.
Western officials have previously accused militants in Iran of supplying militants in Afghanistan with weapons, but no top U.S. official has accused Iran's government of supporting the Taliban, AP noted.

This is a developing story.

(Report from newswire sources.)

Source: US kills militant said linked to Iran's Quds Force

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