Iran Closes Consulate in Mazar-i-Sharif as Fighting Escalates in Northern Afghanistan
- August, 13, 2021 - 12:32
- Politics news
TEHRAN (Tasnim) – The Islamic Republic of Iran temporarily closed its consulate general in Afghanistan’s northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif after the Taliban besieged the city.
The Iranian consulate general in Mazar-i-Sharif announced the closure on Thursday, saying the ongoing military clashes might cause insecurity in the city and the country’s diplomatic mission.
The consulate general said it will continue offering services in Kabul for a limited period. As soon as the conditions become stable, the Iranian diplomatic mission will reopen in Mazar-i-Sharif, IRNA reported.
Iran’s consulate general in Mazar-i-Sharif was once attacked in 1998. Several Iranian diplomats and a correspondent were killed in the attack.
The Taliban group has besieged Mazar-i-Sharif after taking more than a quarter of the Afghanistan’s provincial capitals in less than a week.
A US defense official warned on Wednesday that the Taliban could take over Kabul in 90 days.
The Taliban have already gained vast parts of rural Afghanistan since launching a series of offensives in May to coincide with the start of the final withdrawal of US-led foreign forces after a 20-year presence.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani returned to Kabul on Thursday after a flying visit to Mazar-i-Sharif, where he held talks with long-time local strongman Atta Mohammad Noor and Abdul Rashid Dostum about the defense of the city, as Taliban fighters inched closer to its outskirts.
The loss of Mazar would be a catastrophic blow to the Kabul government and represent the complete collapse of its control over the north – long a bastion of anti-Taliban militias.