KABUL -- The Iranian regime offered the Taliban bounties to attack US and coalition soldiers in Afghanistan, just as the Kremlin allegedly did, CNN reported Monday (August 17), citing US military intelligence.
The United States identified payments tied to six attacks last year, including an assault in December on a building outside Bagram Air Base near Kabul, said CNN.
The attack, which CNN said killed two Afghan civilians and left four Americans injured, brought US-Taliban peace negotiations to a temporary halt.
In a statement, the US Department of Defence would not confirm or deny the CNN report.
The department does not disclose details of internal discussions on intelligence, said Maj. Rob Lodewick, a Pentagon spokesman.
However, he added, the department "has repeatedly demanded, both publically and privately, that Iran cease its scourge of malign and destabilising behavior throughout the Middle East and the world".
"Iran's inimical influence seeks to undermine the Afghan peace process and foster a continuation of violence and instability," he added.
In June, US media reported that intelligence had determined that the Russian regime had offered the Taliban bounties to kill US soldiers in Afghanistan.
The Iranian regime has been accused of supporting two opposing groups -- the Taliban and the Fatemiyoun Division -- to cause instability and chaos in Afghanistan.
"Iran's support for the Taliban and Fatemiyoun fighters, who are politically, religiously and ideologically opposed to each other, shows that Iran is pursuing and managing a policy of anarchism and crisis in Afghanistan so that it can achieve its security, economic and political objectives," said Kabul-based political analyst Aminullah Shariq.
The Fatemiyoun Division is a militia made up of Afghans funded, trained and equipped by Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).
Admitted ties to Taliban
At the same time, Tehran has admitted its ties to the Taliban and its opposition to the peace process.
"We have ties with the Taliban, and they visited Iran, where we held meetings with them," Abbas Araghchi, Iranian deputy foreign minister for political affairs, said an interview with TOLOnews that aired on July 19.
"We have had links with various groups including the Taliban for a few years, and we have shared our views with them on a variety of matters," he added.
His government is not in favour of the Afghan peace process, he confirmed.
"We see that the IRGC has invested heavily in operatives and destructive groups, using Afghans within both the Fatemiyoun and the Taliban for its interests in Afghanistan and the region," said Ibrahim Rahimi, the director of the Commission of the National Cohesion of Political Parties, Social Organisations and Civil Society Institutions in Kabul.
"Iran has provided financial and military support to groups involved in wars in Afghanistan in the past 40 years in an effort to help install its puppet regime in Afghanistan, and now, with concurrent support to Fatemiyoun and the Taliban, it wants to achieve this goal," Rahimi said.