Taliban Claims Shooting Down Afghan Chopper near Iran, Killing 25

Former Afghan Taliban fighters carry their weapons before handing them over as part of a government peace and reconciliation process at a ceremony in Jalalabad on January 12, 2016. More than a dozen former Taliban fighters from Ghani district of Nangarhar province handed over their weapons as part of a …
NOORULLAH SHIRZADA/AFP/Getty Images

The Taliban reportedly claimed to be behind Wednesday’s crash of an Afghan army helicopter near Afghanistan’s border with Iran that killed all 25 people on board, including senior officials.

Wednesday’s deadly incident comes days after U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration imposed sanctions on the Afghan Taliban and its Iranian backers.

The U.S. military has asserted that Iran is lending support to the Taliban, an accusation that Tehran denies.

Naser Mehdi, a spokesman for the provincial governor, says the helicopter crashed around 9:10 a.m. on Wednesday soon after taking off from a mountainous region in Farah en route to nearby Herat, CBS News reports.

Voice of America (VOA) adds:

Nasir Mehri confirmed the deputy corps commander for western Afghanistan and the head of Farah’s provincial council were among those killed. He blamed bad weather for causing the crash.

The Taliban said its fighters shot down the Afghan National Army (ANA) helicopter, though it was not possible to independently verify the insurgent claims.

Both western Afghanistan provinces of Farah and Herat sit along the Iranian border.

On October 23, the U.S. Treasury Department announced sanctions against “Taliban facilitators and the Iranian supporters.”

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin declared:

The [multi-national] TFTC [Terrorist Financing Targeting Center] has again demonstrated its tremendous value to international security by disrupting and exposing key Taliban members who are involved in suicide attacks, and other lethal activities.  We are also targeting key Iranian sponsors providing financial and material support to the Taliban.

Iran’s provision of military training, financing, and weapons to the Taliban is yet another example of Tehran’s blatant regional meddling and support for terrorism.  The United States and our partners will not tolerate the Iranian regime exploiting Afghanistan to further their destabilizing behavior.  Iran’s support to the Taliban stands in stark violation of United Nations Security Council Resolutions and epitomizes the regime’s utter disregard for fundamental international norms.

Separately on Wednesday, Afghan authorities determined that an Islamic State (ISIS)-claimed suicide blast at the country’s largest prison in Kabul killed at least six people and wounded scores of others, bringing the total number of Afghan fatalities that day to 31.

Kabul police spokesman Basir Mujahid indicated that police officers and civilians were among the victims.

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