Clashes have occurred between Iranian border guards and Afghanistan’s Taliban forces on the joint border between the two countries, media reports said.
On Saturday, footage emerged online of exchanges of fire between Iranian border guards and Taliban forces on the border of Iran’s Sistan and Baluchestan Province and the Afghan Province of Nimroz, Fars News Agency reported.
There have been no immediate reports on the exact cause of the skirmishes or possible casualties.
The incident comes amid rising tensions between Tehran and Kabul over the latter’s blocking of Iran’s access to its share of water from the Helmand River in violation of a 1973 treaty.
In 1939, the Iranian and Afghan governments signed a treaty on sharing the river’s water, but the Afghans failed to ratify it. In 1973, the two sides signed an accord that accepted the flow of water into Iran at 22 cubic meters per second or 820 million cubic meters of water a year with an option for Iran to purchase an additional four cubic meters per second in “normal” water years.
However, the agreement was neither ratified nor fully implemented due to political developments, including a 1973 coup in Afghanistan, the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan that same year, and finally the rise of the Taliban in 1995.
With Afghanistan at war for the past 40 years, the supply has been erratic. Severe drought across much of Afghanistan is spurring plans to build new dams, aggravating tensions with Iran. Tehran had already voiced concern that the huge Indian-financed Salma Dam in western Herat province, inaugurated in 2016, would see its water supplies reduced.
At the center of the dispute, however, is the Helmand River, which runs through much of Afghanistan from its source in the mountains north of Kabul, feeding the Sistan wetlands in the border regions of the two countries.
Iranian officials and the interim Taliban rulers have been locked in a war of words over the dispute over the past few days.