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‘Significant’ Number of U.S. Trained Elite Afghan Soldiers Have Fled to Iran

U.S. service members assist with security at an Evacuation Control Check Point (ECC) during an evacuation at Hamid Karzai International Airport, Kabul, Afghanistan, August 26, 2021. U.S. Marine Corps/Staff Sgt. Victor Mancilla/Handout via REUTERS.
U.S. service members assist with security at an Evacuation Control Check Point (ECC) during an evacuation at Hamid Karzai International Airport, Kabul, Afghanistan, August 26, 2021. U.S. Marine Corps/Staff Sgt. Victor Mancilla/Handout via REUTERS.

Elite Afghan soldiers trained by the United States fled to Iran with weapons and specialized combat training following the Biden administration’s bungled withdrawal from the country that let the Taliban regain power, according to a report by Republicans on the House Foreign Affairs Committee based on interviews with whistleblowers and internal State Department documents.

“A ‘significant’ number of Afghan special forces and about 3,000 Afghan security forces, including high ranking officers, crossed the border into Iran,” according to the report, which was released on Monday to coincide with the one-year anniversary of the deadly U.S. military withdrawal from Afghanistan. “Some brought military equipment and vehicles with them. We believe this happened because they were not evacuated by the U.S. or our allies, and therefore had no other option.”

These forces were trained in combat by U.S. special operators, in some cases within the United States, and “could be a serious national security threat to the United States if they are captured or turn,” according to the report. They “know not only our tactics but who these elite [U.S.] military officials are.”

The findings detail months of chaos following the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan and indicate that the tumult in the country has provided an opportunity for regional enemies like Iran to regain a foothold in the war-torn country. Details of Iran’s ties to these U.S. trained fighters comes as new threats from Iran are making headlines across America, with the arrest of an Iranian national who’d put a bounty on former White House national security adviser John Bolton’s head, as well as the attempted murder last week of the novelist Salman Rushdie, who has long faced threats from Iran’s clerical regime.

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