In an interview with IRNA on Sunday, Second Brigadier General Mahmoud Mahmoudi, the commander of the army’s 30th operational headquarters in the eastern Iranian province of South Khorasan, which borders Afghanistan, said while some areas have been captured by the Taliban, the overall control of the country remains in the hands of the government, Press TV reported.
Mahmoudi confirmed that the Taliban have captured some areas along Iran’s eastern border, but stressed that Iranian Army forces are stationed in the region and have everything under control.
“Given the developments in Afghanistan, full security has been provided at the border's zero point and there is no cause for concern for people and those residing near the frontier,” he said.
“Of course, inside Afghanistan anything may happen and some places may be seized by the Taliban. But that will not affect Iranian people and Armed Forces, thanks to the management of the situation at the national, regional and local levels and owing to the vigilance of our military, security and border forces.”
Over the past weeks, the Taliban have overrun areas in Afghanistan bordering five countries – Iran, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, China and Pakistan.
On Friday, the militant group claimed that it had seized control of 85 percent of the Afghan territory, a declaration government officials dismissed as part of a propaganda campaign.
The Taliban gains come amid the withdrawal of US-led troops from the country after two decades of war and occupation.
Afghanistan’s Interior Ministry spokesman Tareq Arian has said efforts are underway to dislodge the Taliban from their newly acquired positions.
In the aftermath of Taliban’s seizure of the border crossings on the Afghan soil, a number of the country’s border guards and customs staffers fled to Iran.
Commenting on the situation of the Afghan border guards and customs office employees on Sunday, Iranian Police spokesman General Mehdi Hajian said they have been repatriated to Kabul by plane, Tasnim News Agency reported.
He added said these people had fled to an Iranian Border Police station, requesting entry to the country following the recent outbreak of insecurity in Afghanistan.
The problems of those Afghan forces and staffers were addressed, their weapons were taken, and they were accommodated on the Iranian soil, General Hajian noted.
The general said those Afghan forces were flown back to Kabul following an official request from the Afghan government, made via diplomatic channels, and upon a decision by the Iranian authorities.
As fighting escalates between the two sides in the war-torn country, negotiators from the Afghan government and the Taliban held a series of talks in the Qatari capital of Doha to discuss the stalled peace process.
Najia Anwari, a spokesperson for Afghanistan’s Ministry for Peace Affairs, said on Saturday that “serious discussions are taking place between the Afghan Republic and the Taliban negotiators” in Doha, Press TV wrote.
“These meetings are held every single night between the two sides and the discussions are focused on a number of important issues,” Anwari added.
The spokesman underlined that the Afghan government and Taliban negotiators have, over the past few days, exchanged views on at least five key issues, including a future constitution, cease-fire, political roadmap and political participation in the transition period.
Suhail Shaheen, a spokesman for the Taliban's office in Qatar, also confirmed in a statement that the heads of both teams, along with some of their negotiators, had met in Doha.
"They discussed topics of the agenda, accelerating the Afghan negotiations process and reaching mutual understanding in this regard," he said.
The meetings were the first announced gathering of both sides since mid-May and after the talks stalled in April, when the US announced it would complete the withdrawal of its forces from Afghanistan by September 11.
Since the beginning of the pullout earlier this year, violence has escalated across the war-ravaged country.
US President Joe Biden has said the withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan will conclude on August 31 after nearly 20 years of war, ahead of the September 11 deadline.
About 650 American troops are likely to stay in Afghanistan to provide security at the US Embassy after US forces leave the country, The Associated Press reported last week. Hundreds of more troops will also stay at the Kabul airport.
The US invaded Afghanistan in October 2001 under the pretext of the so-called war on terror. The invasion removed the Taliban from power, but insecurity and violence persist to this day.