Iranian planes bomb mock targets on Afghan border: agency
Fri 02 Oct 98 - 17:53 GMT
TEHRAN, Oct 2 (AFP) - Dozens of Iranian fighter planes have bombed imaginary targets along the border with Afghanistan as part of military exercises, the state news agency IRNA reported Friday.
The planes bombed the mock targets Thursday, when 100 tanks and several helicopters also took part in the exercises, said an Iranian military spokesman quoted by IRNA.
The Iranian military announced several weeks ago that military exercises would be held along the border as tensions mounted with neighbouring Afghanistan following the murder of eight Iranian diplomats and an IRNA journalist by the Taliban militia on August 8.
The beginning of the exercises has not been formally announced, but around 200,000 Iranian troops have been stationed near the border.
The exercises will cover an area of 50,000 square kilometers (20,000 square miles) from Taibad, central Khorasan province, to Zabol, in the northern part of Sistan-Baluchestan province.
Tens of thousands of troops from Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards, used as a rapid-action intervention force, have also been deployed.
Deputy commander of the Guards, Brigadier-General Mohammad-Baqer Zolqadre, was quoted by IRNA Thursday saying that his crack troops could "crush the criminal Taliban in 48 hours."
The fundamentalist Taliban, who captured the capital of Kabul in 1996, now control almost all of Afghanistan.
Taliban officials told the Pakistan-based Afghan Islamic Press news agency that Iranian military planes flew over the tense border into Afghanistan three times on Friday.
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