FILE - In this March 31, 2020, file photo, Iran's national flag waves as Milad telecommunications tower and buildings are seen in Tehran, Iran. A British-Australian academic serving a 10-year sentence for espionage in Iran has been moved to a notorious prison where concerns for her well-being have escalated, the Australian government confirmed Wednesday. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi, File)

 

Iran on Monday “strongly” condemned the Taliban’s military offensive against holdout fighters in Afghanistan’s panjshir as the Islamist group claimed it had taken control of the area.

Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh told reporters “The news coming from Panjshir is truly worrying”. “The assault is strongly condemned.”

Iran, the region’s dominant Muslim Shiite power, had until now refrained from criticising the Taliban since the Sunni group seized Kabul on August 15.

The Taliban on Monday claimed victory in the  with a spokesman declaring “our country is completely taken out of the quagmire of war”, three weeks after the Islamists captured the  capital.

 The  National Resistance Front  made up of anti Taliban militia and former Afghan security forces  said its fighters were still present in “strategic positions” across the valley, and that they were continuing the struggle.

Khatibzadeh said.”On the question of Panjshir, I have insisted on the fact that it be resolved by dialogue in the presence of all the Afghan elders” .

“The Taliban must equally respect their obligations in terms of international law, and their commitments,” he added, affirming that “Iran will work to put an end to all the suffering of the Afghan people in favour of establishing a representative government for all Afghans”.

Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman added, “We would like to inform our friends, and those who might make the strategic error of entering Afghanistan with different intentions, that Afghanistan is not a country which accepts the enemy the aggressor” on its soil.

Already host to nearly 3.5 million Afghans, and fearing a new influx, Tehran has however sought to sketch a rapprochement with the Taliban since their lightning seizure of Kabul amid the US withdrawal last mont.

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