KABUL -- The Iranian regime has been providing advanced weapons -- including night vision equipment, lethal bombs and heavy weaponry -- to the Taliban, say military sources.
Several military officials on condition of anonymity shared intelligence and security reports from last month that say members of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) have been leading the Taliban in Afghanistan's western region.
Mawlawi Mohammad Anwar, a Taliban commander who apparently operates under the auspices of the IRGC's Quds Force (IRGC-QF), smuggled three poisonous gas balloon bombs from Iran into Bala Buluk district of Farah province on April 30, according to one of the security reports.
The Taliban had plotted to poison Afghan National Army (ANA) soldiers in the district with the balloon bombs as a prelude to an attack on a military compound, but security forces thwarted the plot, the report said.
As many as 25 IRGC members, residents of Iran's Khorasan and Zahedan provinces, infiltrated Shindand district, Herat province, on April 30, said another report in May.
They came with night vision gear and weapons and entered the country to fight in support of Mullah Najib, a Taliban Red Unit commander in Herat province, the report said.
The IRGC-QF has recently led major Taliban attacks in Shindand, Adraskan, Pusht-e-Koh, Chesht-e-Sharif, Obe, Pashtun Zarghun, and Ghorian districts, the report said, adding that dozens of IRGC-QF members have been deployed to Birjand, an Iranian city near the Afghan border.
The IRGC is prepared to enter Herat and Farah provinces to help the Taliban, the report noted.
The Taliban are also importing vehicles loaded with explosives from Iran into Herat province, a senior government official in Herat province said on condition of anonymity.
In recent months, the Taliban have carried out several car bombings targeting security forces in a number of districts bordering Iran, including in Kohsan, Gulran, Ghorian and Zindajan, the official said.
"These bombs were prepared on the Iranian side of the border," he said, adding that most of the explosive materials used by the Taliban in Herat have come from Iran.
Citing intelligence reports, Abdul Sattar Hussaini, a member of the Wolesi Jirga representing Farah province, said that more than 2,000 weapons of different types were smuggled from Iran via Dehana Zulfiqar and Abchermi areas to Herat province during the month of Ramadan.
Some of these weapons went to Taliban militants in Herat province and others reached Farah, Badghis, Faryab and Baghlan provinces, he said.
The weapons are highly advanced and come from a factory in Mashhad, Iran, he added.
"Well-known Taliban commanders, including Mullah Haidar, Mullah Daud and Mullah Noor Ahmad Shahab, have been supported by the Iranian regime in the western region," he said.
"The Iranian regime also continues to provide small drones carrying explosive materials to the Taliban."
The IRGC-QF provided the Taliban with rockets that they then used to attack security forces in Farah, including an army base in Bala Buluk district, according to Hussaini.
By providing rockets and explosive materials to the Taliban, Hussaini said, the Iranian regime aims to target the Kamal Khan and Salma dams and to disrupt construction of the Pashdan dam in Herat and of the Bakhshabad dam in Farah.
The IRGC has been providing money and weapons to the Taliban to pursue the Iranian regime's interests in the western region, observers and members of the public have confirmed.
The Taliban receive support from the Iranian regime in Afghanistan's western region, said Farah provincial council chairman Dadullah Qani, adding that most western region Taliban commanders own houses in Iran.
"Iran's IRGC has an active role on the frontlines in the western region, and it has provided military equipment to the Taliban," Qani said. "There is clear evidence that many Taliban commanders have been receiving money and weapons from the Iranian regime."
Iran's interference has created challenges for Afghanistan's security and stability, especially in the western region, said Hasan Hakimi, a civil society activist in Firoz Koh, capital of Ghor province.
"The Iranian regime continues to maintain and strongly support its desired alliances within the Taliban terrorist group so that it can achieve its political, economic and intelligence goals," he added.
The Iranian regime's policy towards Afghanistan has always been hypocritical, said Hakimi.
"The Iranian regime has called itself a friend of Afghanistan, while it has continued to support the Taliban's war machine, enabling them to kill hundreds of innocent Afghans every day," he said.
The IRGC has an active role in all suicide attacks, deadly explosions and car bombings carried out by the Taliban across the western region, said Hakimi.