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Sunday, 7 October, 2001, 22:30 GMT 23:30 UK
Iran's mounting concern
Iranian President Mohammed Khatami
Iranian President Mohammed Khatami
Jim Muir

The Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman lost no time in issuing a statement expressing concern at the attacks on Afghanistan, which he described as "unacceptable".

He said they were being carried out without regard to world public opinion, especially in the Muslim countries, and innocent people would be victims.

And he also warned the United States that it should avoid violating Iran's air space and territorial integrity.

Home to refugees

Iranian leaders are clearly suspicious of American strategic intentions in the region.

They had earlier made it clear that they would condemn any campaign that led to heavy civilian casualties and waves of refugees.

It is already home to more than two million Afghans who have sought refuge here during previous upheavals.

Fear, anxiety and hope are the emotions that they are now feeling as they watch the most powerful nations in the world moving into action against their already battered and impoverished country.

Action against Taleban

Many express concern for friends and family still inside Afghanistan.

One former teacher, now jobless and far from home, said he was happy that the nations which had established the Taleban in the first place, the United States and its allies, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, were those who had suffered at the Taleban's hands and were now being forced to move against them.

One woman said the war in Afghanistan had become darker and darker.

Whoever was responsible for the current crisis, she was outraged by this latest infliction on a country which had already been completely destroyed.

Hope amid the drama

Some of the refugees in Iran have been here for as long as 20 years, others have arrived much more recently, but practically all of them want to go home.

They say they hope this unfolding drama will lead to a stable and broad based government that would enable them to do that and enjoy a security that has not prevailed for many years.

Links to more Middle East stories are at the foot of the page.


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