Wire: US Sees Hand of Iran's Revolutionary Guards in Afghanistan
Off the Wire:
WASHINGTON, Sept. 22, 2009 -- Newswire services today reported that the United States believes Iran's Revolutionary Guards are providing training and weapons to Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan to help them fight Western forces, U.S. counterterrorism officials said on Monday.
The suspected role played by the Revolutionary Guard's shadowy, elite Qods force in helping the Taliban, and the extent to which the Iranian leadership may be involved, has been hotly debated within the Pentagon and the U.S. intelligence community.
In a confidential assessment of the war obtained by The Washington Post, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan, said Iranian military assistance was not an immediate threat to Western forces but could become one in the future.
A counterterrorism official, speaking on condition of anonymity to the Reuters news service, said the degree of Qods assistance -- supplying arms and providing training to Taliban elements -- had reached "very troubling" proportions, underscoring heightened concerns within the intelligence community.
Two years ago, the Bush administration dubbed the Revolutionary Guard a proliferator of weapons of mass destruction and imposed sanctions on its Qods force.
U.S. officials say Iran appears to be trying to play both sides in the Afghan war, currying Taliban favor in case they return to power while trying to undercut the American military and enhance its bargaining power in talks over its nuclear program.
Pentagon officials said the presence of Iranian-made improvised explosive devices in a recently discovered cache in Afghanistan was particularly troubling because those weapons cause the highest number of Western casualties
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(Report from newswire sources.)
Source: US sees hand of elite Iranian unit in Afghanistan