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Report: Taliban getting training in Iran

Report: Taliban getting training in Iran
A Taliban soldier stands guard in front of his commander's residence at the Makaki refugee camp set up by the Iranian Red Crescent Society, 3 kilometers (2 miles) inside Afghanistan from the Iranian border, Monday, Oct. 29, 2001. (rlw/ak/Ali Khalig UPI) | License Photo

WASHINGTON, March 23 (UPI) -- Some Taliban fighters are being trained inside Iran, sources told CNN, but it is not clear whether the program has the support of the Tehran government.

The United States has suspected Iranians in Afghanistan have been providing limited training to the Taliban, but the CNN report, quoting U.S. military and intelligence officials, said the militants are receiving training in small arms use inside Iran.

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"For some years, Iran has supplied arms and munitions to the Afghan Taliban," a U.S. intelligence official was quoted as saying.

"It has also helped conduct at least small-scale weapons training for the Taliban. There's reason to believe that some of this training has occurred in Iran."

The report said the officials did not say the number of Taliban fighters trained in Iran or whether the program had been sanctioned at the highest levels of the Iranian government.

An Iranian official at the United Nations termed the training allegations "absolutely baseless and wrong allegations, and strongly rejected by the Islamic Republic of Iran," CNN said. Tehran has always denied giving any support to the Taliban.

Former CIA officer Bruce Reidel, who assisted the Obama administration in its strategic review of Afghanistan, told CNN the Iranians have mastered the IEDs or improvised explosive devices, which the Afghan Taliban has used increasingly, inflicting many casualties on the U.S. and coalition forces there.

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"They're among the best in the world in this kind of knowledge. And they're trying to transmit some of that knowledge over to the Afghan Taliban," said Reidel.

Although Iran is largely Shiite and while the Taliban is made up mostly of Sunni Muslims, Reidel said Iran sees the group as a way to counter the United States. The Taliban is also looking for assistance from whatever source.

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