AS TEHRAN hosted a round of intra-Afghan talks, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has told the representatives of the Kabul government and the Taliban, that the Islamic Republic stands ready to help the neighbouring country resolve its conflicts and achieve lasting peace.
In a tweet on Wednesday morning, Seyed Rasoul Mousavi, the head of the South Asia Department at Iran’s Foreign Ministry, announced that Tehran is hosting four delegations, including representatives of the Afghan government and parliament, the Taliban group and prominent figures supporting the Republic system in the war-torn country.
The Taliban’s spokesman Mohammed Naeem Wardak also said via Twitter that the militant group’s trip to Tehran comes at the official invitation of the Islamic Republic of Iran. He said Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai, the head of the Taliban’s political office in Qatar’s Doha, is the leader of the delegation to Tehran.
Meanwhile, the Afghan government’s delegation is headed by former Vice President of Afghanistan Yunus Qanuni.
During his address at the beginning of the talks, Zarif pointed to the United States’ defeat in establishing peace in Afghanistan, saying the US military’s more than two decades of presence on Afghan soil has brought about widespread destruction.
‘The United States has failed in Afghanistan … and its presence in the country for more than two decades has caused major damage in Afghanistan,’ said Zarif. ‘Today, the people and political leaders of Afghanistan must take difficult decisions for the future of their country.’
He warned against the dire consequences of ongoing disputes in Afghanistan and said returning to the intra-Afghan negotiating table with a commitment to political solutions is the best option for the country’s leaders and political movements.
Zarif said the Islamic Republic of Iran is ready to help advance the process of talks between Afghanistan’s factions in order to resolve the conflicts and crises in that country.
The Taliban say they will present a written peace proposal to the Afghan government as soon as next month, even though they have gained the ‘upper hand on the battlefield’ in recent weeks.
The chief Iranian diplomat also underscored Iran’s commitment to contributing to Afghanistan’s all-out political, economic and social development after the establishment of peace there.
In recent months, Iran has repeatedly voiced its support for measures aimed at establishing peace in Afghanistan.
Last week, Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh underlined the necessity for an inclusive government that would involve all Afghan groups in Afghanistan, saying the Taliban represents only a part of Afghanistan, not the whole present and future status of the country.
Speaking at his weekly press conference on June 28th, Khatibzadeh noted that Iran is closely and seriously monitoring the situation in Afghanistan at the high security and political levels and is negotiating with all Afghan groups.
Tehran’s peace efforts follow the withdrawal of US-led coalition forces last week from the largest military base in Afghanistan, located in the ancient city of Bagram, about 45 miles north of Kabul.
The US began its official withdrawal back in May. Since then, the Taliban militants have intensified their attacks across the country and managed to gain control over more than a hundred of Afghanistan’s district centres.
The US military led the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, in what it proclaimed was a war on terror which was meant to eradicate the Taliban. Twenty years forward, however, the declared objective has not been remotely achieved.
Last Friday, the Taliban said it considers the US withdrawal a ‘positive step’ to get closer to peace and stability.
- Two major US bases in western Iraq and on the other side of the border in eastern Syria have come under simultaneous attacks, with the attack on the Iraq-based outpost reportedly wounding many American personnel members.
The concurrent strikes took place on Wednesday against the Ain al-Assad airbase that hosts US troops in the western Iraqi province of al-Anbar, and the military base run by the American troops at the al-Omar Oilfield in Syria’s eastern province of Deir Ezzor.
The attacks came more than a week after the American military conducted deadly air raids against targets reportedly belonging to Iraqi anti-terror forces on the both sides of the Arab countries’ common border.
The US claimed they were staging airstrikes against targets belonging to Iraqi resistance groups along Iraq and Syria’s border.
Iraq’s Sabereen News agency put the number of the wounded from the attack on the Iraq-based US outpost Ain al-Assad at five, citing preliminary figures.
The US-led coalition spokesman, Colonel Wayne Marotto, however, alleged that the attack had only wounded two personnel members.
The Thar al-Muhandis Brigade claimed responsibility for the attack on Ain al-Assad. It said it struck the base with 30 Grad rockets, adding that the projectiles hit their targets accurately.
Sources said the strike had most likely been meant to destroy very important and expensive equipment and installations belonging to US troops there.
The Iraqi resistance group has identified its goal as seeking revenge for the US drone strike that martyred senior Iraqi anti-terror commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis in Baghdad early last year.
The strike also martyred the top ranking Iranian counter-terrorism commander, Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani and many others.
The Iraqi parliament passed a law soon afterwards, ruling all forms of US-led presence in the country as illegal.
Both the commanders played a key role in defeating the Takfiri terrorist group of Daesh, which the US has been using as an alleged excuse to prolong its presence in Iraq and Syria, which have also been invaded by the coalition’s forces.
US forces opened ‘aimless’ artillery fire in response to the attack on Ain al-Assad, causing damage to a number of civilian residences and a mosque in the city of Hit in al-Anbar, reports noted.
Iraq’s Alahad TV said the coalition had responded with multiple attacks that caused fire to a number of residences located in Hit’s al-Baghdadi area.
The coalition, however, alleged that the response had targeted the locations that had been struck with rockets.
Meanwhile, in Syria, according to the official Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA), mortar rounds were fired into the Deir Ezzor-based military compound for the third time in recent days.
Militants from the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), an alliance of mainly Kurdish forces fighting against Damascus, reportedly claimed that they had thwarted the attack.
Iraqi resistance groups have vowed to keep up their struggle until complete expulsion of all the foreign troops. Damascus has also said it reserved the right to retaliate towards invading military forces.