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Iran's 'marriage of convenience' with Taliban

Experts say reports of an Iran-backed Taliban buffer zone in Afghanistan against the Islamic State are overstated but that Iran has had links with Taliban commanders for over a decade.
Taliban insurgents stand over three men, accused of murdering a couple during a robbery, before shooting them during their execution in Ghazni Province April 18, 2015. The Taliban announced the execution of the three men accused of murdering a couple during a robbery, saying they had been tried by an Islamic court. The killing was carried out in front of a crowd by Taliban fighters who fired at the men with AK-47s, according to a Reuters witness. Footage seen by Reuters show the men were made to sit on the
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Iranian authorities deny that Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mansour had just returned from a trip to Iran when he was killed May 21 by a US drone strike not far from the Iran-Pakistan border.

But experts on Afghanistan tell Al-Monitor that Iran has played a complicated game with the Afghan militant group for over a decade and has stepped up contacts in recent years in part to keep an even more dangerous organization — the group that calls itself the Islamic State — from expanding its territory to Iran’s east.

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