A Taliban commander who was targeted by the US military in an airstrike nearly a decade ago and who has links to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corp – Qods Force remains a key player in the insurgency in central Afghanistan. The Taliban commander, known as Mullah Mustafa, was instrumental in the Taliban’s takeover of Taiwara district in Ghor province several weeks ago. Afghan forces have retaken the district, but maintain a tenuous hold on it.
Taiwara district fell to the Taliban on July 23 after hundreds of fighters assaulted the district center and overran Afghan forces and the local militia and police forces. More than 700 Taliban fighters using “humvees and trucks stolen from Afghan forces in Helmand province” launched the assault, according to The New York Times. Out of a force of 50 Afghan commandos guarding the district, 12 were killed, more than 20 were wounded, and several more are missing. Afghan officials claimed that more than 200 Taliban fighters were killed during the fighting.
Iran’s links to the Taliban, particularly in western and central Afghanistan, have been well established by the US military and government. In an Aug. 2010 designation of General Hossein Musavi and Colonel Hasan Mortezavi, both senior officers in the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps – Qods Force, the US Treasury Department noted that the two provide “financial and material support to the Taliban.”
Musavi was the commander of the Ansar Corps, the IRGC command that is assigned to direct operations in Afghanistan. The Ansar Corps is based in Mashhad in northeastern Iran.