Israel has sent troops to Afghanistan to collect intelligence on Iranian military movement, Iranian media has reported.
According to Iran’s Tasnim news agency, Israeli troops are operating out of a United States Air Force base in Shindand in the western Afghanistan province of Herat some 75 kilometers from the Iranian border and were collecting intelligence on Iranian movement around the Persian Gulf region.
Russia’s Sputnik News stated that the Israelis were operating “under the flags of the United States and the United Arab Emirates.”
Sputnik quoted an expert on Israel as saying that the Israeli troops were operating under the framework of American forces stationed there and that the activity was carried out with the knowledge and approval of the Afghan government.
“Of course the proximity to an enemy state is the principle reason for carrying out such an operation and also provides legitimacy,” Semyon Tsipis was quoted by the Sputnik’s Urdu language site. “But beyond that, another objective of the mission is to acquire experience in combat in the local ground conditions and activity against the local population.”
“The second objective of the military presence is to gain combat experience in rugged terrain. The military presence in these areas, where military operations are ongoing, is a great opportunity to gain new experience in a rugged environment,” Tsipis continued, adding that the troops deployed to Afghanistan were Israeli special forces.
Israel, he added, is “already cooperating” with other central Asian countries like Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan as well as gulf countries like Oman, Qatar and Bahrain against Iran.
Israel has been operating against Iran as part of its war between wars – code for a constellation of covert operations that continue below the radar against Israel’s enemies.
While Israel has been carrying out hundreds of strikes against Iranian and Hezbollah targets in Syria, according to foreign reports, Israel has also operated in other countries to thwart Tehran from entrenching itself across the region.
Israeli troops have also carried out several drills on the rugged mountainous island of Cyprus simulating war against Hezbollah.
In December, Israeli jets took part in a drill with personnel from the Cypriot National Guard and in June Israeli commandos held a large scale three-day exercise in Cyprus sending close to 500 combat soldiers from the Egoz special forces unit as well as Super Hercules transport planes and 10 Black Hawk helicopters. The commandos trained on high altitude terrain of over also drilled on both urban combat (in abandoned and semi-abandoned Cypriot villages) as well as underground inside tunnels.
A year earlier the IDF held another large-scale commando drill on the island, simulating warfare in urban and mountainous regions which is similar to the terrain of southern Lebanon, the stronghold of the Iran-backed Hezbollah terrorist group.
The terrain in Afghanistan’s Herat province is also similar to the terrain in southern Lebanon.