Border Tensions Continue: the Taliban and Iran Clash 12 Times

By: Amin Kawa

Over the past two years, there have been 12 armed clashes between Iranian border guards and Taliban militants. These confrontations have resulted in fatalities on both sides, as well as civilian casualties, including women and children. Within the last 22 months, the Taliban have twice captured Iranian border forces. During the initial clash, several media outlets reported on the Taliban’s occupation of Iranian border posts. In the most recent armed confrontation, two Iranian soldiers and one Taliban militant were killed during the clash between Taliban and Iranian border guards. As a result of Iran’s artillery attacks on Nimruz province, 10 individuals, including women and children, sustained injuries, and a residential house was destroyed. The commander of Iran’s security forces responded to the border clash with the Taliban by affirming that their forces “bravely and decisively defend the borders” and holding the Taliban accountable for the conflict. However, the Taliban asserts that the clash was initiated by Iranian forces. Notably, last week, Bahram Hussaini Mutlaq, the Deputy Chief of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces, met with Mali Khan Siddiq, the Deputy Chief of the Taliban’s Armed Forces, in Kabul to discuss “joint border cooperation.”

Since the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan, their militants have engaged in 12 clashes with the Iranian Border Guard Command (FARAJA Border Guard). Despite issuing political and diplomatic statements after each confrontation, both sides have failed to prevent military tensions at the border. Experts believe that these border tensions serve the interests of both parties in appeasing their respective supporters, rather than addressing the underlying causes of the issues. On social media, Taliban supporters chant slogans and mention their leaders’ names, hinting at potential “reform” in Iran following each military confrontation. This report provides casualty figures based on reports from the Hasht-e Subh Daily and documented events in this media outlet.

Following the clash on Saturday, May 27, which resulted in the deaths of two Iranian border guards and one Taliban militant, the Commander-in-Chief of the Law Enforcement Command of the Islamic Republic of Iran accused the Taliban of violating border rules. Qasem Rezaei, the Deputy Commander of Iran’s Law Enforcement Forces (LEF), stated that the Taliban forces opened fire on the Sasoli outpost in the Zabol border area, disregarding international laws and good neighborliness. In response, the brave and courageous Border Guard Command (FARAJA Border Guard) retaliated firmly. Concurrently, Hassan Kazemi Qomi, the Iranian ambassador to Afghanistan, held a meeting with Amir Khan Muttaqi, the Taliban’s Foreign Minister, to discuss border issues and Iran’s water rights.

In a tweet, Abdul Nafi Takor, the spokesperson for the Taliban’s Ministry of Interior, confirmed the clash, stating that on Saturday, May 27, Iranian border forces fired on territories in Nimruz province of Afghanistan. In response, a reciprocal response was given. Both sides experienced casualties, including deaths and injuries. The authorities on both sides have been informed, and the situation is now under control.

Clashes on May 27, 2023

On Saturday, May 27, 2023, in the Makaki area of Kang district, Nimruz province, there were continuous military clashes between Taliban militants and Iranian border guards. The cause of the clash remains unclear, but sources indicate that one Taliban militant was killed and 10 civilians, including women and children, were injured as a result of direct gunfire exchanged between the two sides. Local sources reported that the clashes lasted for approximately six hours. According to the Hasht-e Subh Daily, Iranian border guards targeted residential houses in Kang district and the city of Zaranj using mortar shells and cannons. However, footage of the event shows heavy weapons being used by both sides. Additionally, a video has been released showing Taliban militants in Nimruz province performing a “thanksgiving prostration” after the gunfire ceased.

Clashes on May 13, 2023

The Hasht-e Subh Daily recorded continuous clashes between Taliban members and Iranian border guards for two consecutive days starting from Saturday, May 13 of this year. The clash occurred in the Makaki area of Kang district, Nimruz province. Sources claim that the clash was initiated by Iranian border guards who opened fire on Afghan soil. The motive behind the shooting and the casualties resulting from the event is yet to be determined.

Clashes on May 14, 2023

On Sunday, May 14 of this year, Iranian border guards and the Taliban engaged in a gunfire exchange during their ongoing clashes. The clashes began when the Iranian border guards-initiated firing, resulting in the death of one civilian and the injury of a child. According to local sources from Kang district, Nimruz province, the affected individuals were residents of the area. These sources also allege that a Taliban response led to the killing of an Iranian border guard, although this claim has not been officially confirmed or denied by Iran and the Taliban.

Clashes on February 27, 2023

On Monday, February 27, 2023, the Taliban continued their armed clashes with Iranian border guards and detained an Iranian border guard at the “Silk Bridge” border area in Nimruz province. The Taliban claimed that they detained the Iranian military personnel in response to his misconduct towards an Afghan transit driver, who is an Afghan citizen. According to the Taliban, the Iranian border guard was detained and mistreated after assaulting an Afghan citizen at the Silk Bridge border. This detention occurred simultaneously with the handover of the Embassy of Afghanistan in Tehran to the Taliban.

Clashes on March 5, 2023

After a border clash between the Taliban militants and Iranian border guards, both sides clashed again on Sunday, March 5, 2023. During this confrontation, Iranian border guards launched artillery attacks on Taliban positions and residential houses in the city of Zaranj. According to sources, Iranian shells hitting Afghan soil resulted in the destruction of a residential house in the first district of Zaranj city and severe injury to a Taliban militant.

Clashes on March 5, 2023

The ongoing border clashes between the Taliban and Iranian border guards escalated on Sunday, March 5, 2023, in the Gudar Abdulrahman area of Nimruz province. The clash had occurred at 2:00 PM, following lunchtime. Both sides actively engaged in the confrontation, utilizing both light and heavy weapons. According to sources, Iranian border missiles targeted the security command building, which was under Taliban control in the center of Nimruz province, causing significant damage.

Clashes on June 22, 2022

In the last two years, the Taliban has captured multiple Iranian soldiers, including two in a border incident on Wednesday, June 22, 2022, in Nimruz province. Tragically, during this clash, a child lost their life, and another child sustained injuries due to gunfire from Iranian border guards. Sources revealed that the children were collecting garbage near the Iranian border when they were mistakenly targeted by the border guards’ shooting.

Clashes on July 11, 2022

In the past two years, the Taliban militants have engaged in multiple clashes with Iranian forces. On Monday, July 22, 2022, the two sides once again exchanged fire in the Kang district of Nimruz province, as documented in video footage obtained by the Hasht-e Subh Daily. Both light and heavy weapons were used during the confrontation. Additionally, there were three clashes between the Taliban and Iranian border guards in September 2021, resulting in the unfortunate death of Iranian border guard Mohammad Sayyad. The Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs sought clarification from the Taliban regarding these incidents.

Clashes on July 31, 2022

The clashes between the Taliban and Iranian border guards have inflicted human and financial costs on the Taliban. On Sunday, July 31, 2022, a clash occurred in the Darwishok area of Kang district in Nimruz province, resulting in the death of a Taliban militant. According to local sources, the clash was triggered by Iranian border guards crossing into Afghan territory.

Clashes on March 7, 2022

At 9:00 AM on Monday, March 7, 2022, the Taliban militants clashed with Iranian border guards in the Kang district of Nimruz province. The confrontation lasted for approximately one hour, with both sides exchanging fire. Local officials in Nimruz province reported the use of light and heavy weapons by the conflicting parties. Two Iranian border guards were reportedly killed, and a Taliban vehicle was set ablaze.

Clashes on December 6, 2021

On Monday, December 6, 2021, the Taliban militants fired upon Iranian border guards at the zero point of the Afghanistan-Iran border. The Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated that the Taliban attack occurred due to their lack of familiarity with the border’s zero points between the two countries.

Clashes on December 1, 2021

In the early months of their control over Afghanistan, Taliban militants engaged in clashes with Iranian border guards. On Wednesday, December 1, 2021, sources informed the Hasht-e Subh Daily about an armed confrontation between the Taliban militants and Iranian security forces. Meanwhile, videos circulating on social media depicted both sides using light and heavy weapons. During the clash, it was alleged that Taliban militants had seized two Iranian outposts named Dost Mohammad and Siyah Cham. However, Iranian media, citing security officials, denied these claims.

Simultaneously, some citizens of the country claim that the Taliban aims to exploit sentiments among a portion of the population and showcase their defense of the country’s territory and integrity through disputes over Iran’s water rights to the Hirmand Dam and border tensions. These citizens view the border tensions as harmful to the millions of Afghan migrants who have sought work and livelihood in Iran. Cultural figures in the country also anticipate that these tensions will fuel long-term hostilities and result in a significant divide between the two neighboring countries, which share extensive relations and commonalities.