TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — A senior Iranian military commander urged Afghans on Saturday to use force to kick American troops out of their country, hinting that "new resistance groups" could launch attacks on U.S. interests in Afghanistan.
Gen. Masoud Jazayeri, a senior figure in the powerful Revolutionary Guard and the deputy head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said there are indications that Afghans will "soon open new fronts" against "the obsolete, worn-out American empire."
The U.S. has accused Iran's Revolutionary Guard of supplying powerful roadside bombs to militants in Afghanistan fighting NATO forces. Iran has denied that it is supplying arms to fighters in Afghanistan.
Anti-U.S. sentiments have grown in Afghanistan after the killing of 16 civilians, including nine children, allegedly by a U.S. soldier in southern Kandahar province, as well the accidental burning of Quran holy books by American troops. The U.S. soldier has been identified as Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, 38.
"Based on the existing indications, new fronts will soon be opened against invaders in order to ground the obsolete, worn-out American empire," Jazayeri said. "Creation of resistance groups and hitting American interests are among measures that can be taken."
He did not elaborate. The comments by Jazayeri were posted Saturday on the Guard's website, sepahnews.com. It is the strongest comments ever by an Iranian official against American troops in Afghanistan.
"The Americans must know that the Afghan nation ... is tired of the illegitimate presence of invaders ... and deserve to use force and offensive operations to kick invading enemies from their soil," he said.
Jazayeri said Afghans should make their territory unsafe for American troops.
"The United States should not be immune from the biting attacks for insulting Quran and massacring the innocent Afghan and Pakistani people. American troops must experience the bitter taste of revenge so that they won't feel security in any part of the region," he said.
The U.S. and Tehran are at odds over Iran's controversial nuclear program, and some analysts fear that Iran will respond with proxy forces if the confrontation becomes violent.