ISLAMABAD - The United States is rejecting as "laughable and patently false" Iranian allegations that American troops in Afghanistan support Islamic State militants.
Citing "intelligence as well as eyewitness accounts," Iran's foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, earlier this week alleged U.S. military helicopters were seen rescuing and airlifting IS militants from battle zones and an eastern Afghan prison to unknown locations.
U.S. Ambassador to Kabul John Bass and NATO's Resolute Support military mission, in separate statements Wednesday to an Afghan television station, dismissed Zarif's accusations as propaganda.
Tehran should be focusing its energies on supporting the Afghan government's peace efforts "rather than spreading falsehoods," Bass told TOLOnews.
"The facts are clear: U.S. forces have removed more than 1,000 ISIS-K combatants from the battlefield, and the combined efforts of the United States and the Afghan National Defense and Security forces have reduced ISIS-K's presence in Afghanistan," the ambassador said, using one of several acronyms for the Syrian-based terrorist group.
A U.S. embassy spokesman confirmed to VOA that Bass issued the statement exclusively to the channel in response to comments made by the Iranian foreign minister.
Captain Tom Gresback, of NATO's mission, also told the Afghan television station that every effort has been made on the ground and from the air to kill IS militants and to prevent them from establishing a presence in the country.
"This false Iranian narrative has no substance, is based on no evidence, and repeats a deliberate Russian propaganda and disinformation campaign," he said.
Moscow has also increasingly alleged in recent months that "unmarked" military helicopters are making flights to areas in northern Afghanistan where IS militants are entrenched, which borders Russia's allied Central Asian states.
While Russians have avoided naming U.S. and NATO, the Iranian foreign minister, during his official visit Monday to neighboring Pakistan, directly accused Washington of supporting Afghan-based IS militants.
For their part, U.S. officials alleged Moscow and Tehran are supporting the Taliban insurgency to undermine hard-earned political and security gains Afghanistan has achieved over the past 16 years with the help of international partners.