An Iranian plane carrying humanitarian aid has landed in Kabul airport, in the first flight from the Islamic Republic to the Afghan capital since the Taliban takeover of the conflict-ridden country.
The Mahan Air flight, which landed in Kabul on Wednesday, was carrying over a dozen Iranian diplomats as well as humanitarian supplies.
Fars news agency reported that the flight took off from the northeastern Iranian city of Mashhad with 19 passengers on board.
The fight, the report added, would return to Mashhad airport with 26 passengers.
Earlier this month, Afghanistan’s former president Hamid Karzai and head of the country’s High Council for National Reconciliation Abdullah Abdullah had in a telephone conversations with Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian asked for humanitarian aid.
Abdollahian stressed that Iran would maintain trade and keep its borders with Afghanistan open.
Afghanistan relies on Iran for transit route and imports including fuel. According to customs officials, all Iranian borders with Afghanistan have reopened and goods are transiting safely.
Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei stressed last month that Iran would continue to support the Afghan people.
"We are on the side of the Afghan nation because governments come and go as in the past, but it is the Afghan nation that remains, and the nature of Iran's relationship with governments also depends on the nature of their relationship with Iran. We ask God for goodness and salvation from this situation for the people of Afghanistan," he said in a meeting with the new Iranian administration.
The Islamic Republic has spent millions of dollars on development and reconstruction projects in Afghanistan. It has built hundreds of kilometers of highways and railroads.
Tehran was one of the largest donors at a 2002 Tokyo conference, pledging more than India, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Turkey, Norway, Switzerland, Australia, and Pakistan combined.
Iran is also hosting around three million Afghans, including around one million refugees and two million undocumented migrants, according to the United Nations. Many of them have been residing for more than four decades.
The Taliban took over Afghanistan in mid-August amid swift advances on the ground, which many attribute to an irresponsible pullout of US-led foreign forces from the country.
The US military led the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 in what it proclaimed was a war on terror meant to eradicate the Taliban, but two decades later, the US occupation forces left the country with a humiliating defeat.